Did you lack anything? (Luke 22:35)

‘When I sent you out without a purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?’ They said, ‘No, not a thing.’ Luke 22:35

Jesus spoke these words at an immensely tense and difficult time. Judas had already agreed to betray Him. Peter was making promises which Jesus knew he wouldn’t keep. Jesus knew that the physical torture was about to begin. There was so little time left to be with the Disciples. Jesus knew that this had been His Last supper with his closest friends. Times were changing, fast. He needed to prepare this hotch-potch band of world changers for tough and frightening days which were about to come. But he needed to reassure them that they had all they needed to do the things they needed to do.  

Hudson Taylor, who encouraged people to follow Jesus through incredibly dangerous ministry in 19th Century China, famously said, ‘God’s work, done God’s way, will never lack supply.’

When I worked for one Christian charity, those words were written on the wall of the Finance Director’s Office. It’s quite common for people to read Hudson Taylor’s words and assume that we should apply them to money. We use them to imply that if we are doing God’s work, in the right way, that the money – cash, will just roll in to our bank accounts, and enable us to keep doing what we believe we need to do. That is definitely not what Hudson Taylor had in mind.

Of course, God can provide money, and He frequently does. My Financial Director would have been the first to testify that generous donations had often appeared when they were most needed, often from people who had no real idea of the immediate need. The gifts were truly an answer to prayer.

Money is important. But in Christ, God’s supply is not just about money. Hudson Taylor was celebrating a faithful, loving God who provides. Jehovah Jireh. Often, our expectations are misplaced. Our needs are not met in the way we expect, and they will certainly not always be resolved by throwing money at the problem. In Luke 22 Christ is encouraging his disciples to remember the time when he sent them out with nothing. You can read about this first mission trip in Luke 9. It was a lesson in obedience. It was a lesson in trust. It was a time when he asked the disciples to rely not on material things, but on Him. 

These may be difficult days. Days when we feel let down. Days when we are not sure which voices we can trust. Days when we are anxious about the future, for ourselves, or for our children. But we need to remember that we are called to serve the Christ who said, when you’re out there doing the things I have asked of you, ‘Remember this, I am with you always.’ (Matthew 28:20). 

The lesson is, when we’re trying to do God’s work, don’t focus on money as the enable to get the job done. Keep your head up to allow Him to direct your steps, and look for the resources and gifts of those who He puts in our way. Leadership is not about doing everything yourself. Look for opportunities to encourage and release the gifts of others. Practical gifts. Spiritual gifts. God-given gifts. The greatest leaders of the Christian faith were chosen because the one who led them saw, encouraged and released their potential.

The fact is, we may be walking in tense and difficult times. But be assured, that if we trust in Christ, and we are doing His work, in His way, He will supply all that we need. 

The 12 disciples were sent out with nothing. No purse. No bag. No sandals. They trusted the one who had sent them. Whilst doing the work He had directed them to do, did they lack anything? ‘Nothing.’ They answered.

Richard Jackson is the Director of LifePictureUK. He is exploring what it means to live as a contemplative evangelical.

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