For those of us whose income comes from the gifts of others, we can often feel like, or be made to feel like, it is an inferior way to live. Our culture shouts in our faces that success is determined by how we look and what we have. Being financially ‘dependent’ on others is not a good look.
However much we decide that we are different, and we don’t need to be shaped by these loud voices, those thoughts still creep in because they are everywhere. We should provide for ourselves and not depend on others.
We know that Jesus lived in a counter cultural way, so it’s not a surprise to find out that he was supported by others out of their own means.
Interestingly, Jesus was not supported by the great and the good religious leaders of his day, but instead, at least in some part, by women. Luke chapter 8 tells us:
‘After this, Jesus travelled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.' (NIV)
Women were not looked upon highly in Jesus’ day and in reading this account, we see women who had previously been ravaged by disease and evil spirits, but also, we see Joanna, who was married to the man in charge of all King Herod’s household.
It would seem Jesus was content for his ministry and the disciples to be supported by others, including these women. He didn’t think their gifts unworthy, and he didn’t exclude them from giving freely to him because of their background.
Jesus chose to live like this. He could have lived any way he wanted.
Once we grasp that all the resources in the world belong to God, be it a salary from an organisation or people’s generous gifts, then we can be free to live on support without feeling we are somehow failing.
And remember this… if you live on support from others, you’re in good company.