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From Trials to Triumph

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    Chapter 33—Working Under Great Difficulties

    Among the Jews it was regarded as sin to allow youth to grow up in ignorance of physical labor. Every youth, whether his parents were rich or poor, was taught some trade. Paul had early learned the trade of tentmaking.TT 183.1

    Before he became a disciple of Christ, he occupied a high position and was not dependent on manual labor for support. But afterward, when he had used all his means in furthering the cause of Christ, he resorted at times to his trade to gain a livelihood.TT 183.2

    At Thessalonica Paul worked with his hands in self-supporting labor while preaching the Word. Writing to the believers there, he reminded them: “You remember our labor and toil, brethren; we worked night and day, that we might not burden any of you, while we preached to you the gospel of God.” 1 Thessalonians 2:9, RSV. And again, he declared that “we did not eat any one's bread without paying.” “We worked night and day,” he wrote, “that we might not burden any of you. It was not because we have not that right, but to give you in our conduct an example to imitate.” 2 Thessalonians 3:8, 9, RSV.TT 183.3

    At Thessalonica Paul had met those who refused to work with their hands. “We hear that some of you are living in idleness, mere busybodies, not doing any work. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work in quietness and to earn their own living.” “Even when we were with you,” he wrote, “we gave you this command: If any one will not work, let him not eat.” Verses 11, 12, 10, RSV.TT 183.4

    In every age Satan has sought to introduce fanaticism into the church. Thus it was in Paul's day, and later, during the Reformation. Wycliffe, Luther, and many others encountered overzealous, unbalanced, and unsanctified minds. Misguided souls have taught that it is a sin to work, that Christians should devote their lives wholly to spiritual things. The teaching and example of Paul rebuke such extreme views.TT 184.1

    Paul was not wholly dependent on the labor of his hands while at Thessalonica. He wrote to the Philippian believers in acknowledgment of the gifts he had received from them, saying, “Even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity.” Philippians 4:16. Notwithstanding the fact that he received this help, he set an example of diligence, that those who held fanatical views regarding manual labor might be given a practical rebuke.TT 184.2

    The Greeks were keen traders, trained in sharp business practices. They had come to believe that to make money, whether by fair means or foul, was commendable. Paul would give them no occasion for saying that he preached the gospel to enrich himself. He was willing to forgo support from his Corinthian hearers lest his usefulness as a minister be injured by unjust suspicion that he was preaching for gain.TT 184.3

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