Fundamental to the New Testament’s teaching on the church is that all believers have an important part to play in the extension of the kingdom of God. The body of Christ is made up of a variety of people who possess a variety of gifts (1 Cor. 12:12–31), all of which are necessary for the church to function properly. The church’s task cannot be accomplished by one individual; all of us must work together to advance the Lord’s mission. Furthermore, all who work to achieve the ends for which our Father has created His church will be rewarded, no matter the particular part they play in the kingdom’s advance.
This truth is taught clearly in today’s passage, the conclusion to Christ’s missionary discourse. So far, Jesus has called His disciples to ministry and has prepared them for the inevitable opposition from this fallen world (Matt. 10:1–39). But what about those who want to follow the Savior and yet lack the skills, gifts, or qualifications to engage in full-time Christian service? How can they extend the Gospel? Jesus answers these questions in verses 40–42 by promising a great reward to all who support His emissaries.
Receiving His workers (v. 40) — providing room and board for His full-time servants — deserves a prize, not because the messengers themselves are worthy, but because to do such things for Christ’s disciples is to treat the Lord in the same way. John Calvin comments that “if any one would receive [the disciples] in a friendly manner, and do them kind offices, [Jesus] would be as highly pleased as if their benevolence had been exercised towards his own person; and not only so, but that in such a sacrifice God the Father would smell a sweet savor.” There is such a strong connection between Christ and His people that what we do for a believer we do for the Savior. Even if we are not in full-time ministry ourselves, we serve Jesus Himself when we provide for the Gospel’s extension.
Even the tiniest service does not go unnoticed; those who give cold water to Christ’s ministers, an inexpensive act of hospitality, are not forgotten (v. 42). As Matthew Henry says, Christ values the aid offered to His people “not according to the cost of the gift, but according to the love and affection of the giver.”
Only a small percentage of Christians are called to full-time service in the church. Yet even those who do not work in the foreign mission field or hold ecclesiastical office are vital to the extension of the Gospel. Besides working diligently in our jobs and evangelizing those in our lives, praying for the growth of the kingdom, volunteering in the church, and giving money for outreach are all ways we can fulfill Christ’s call to care for His ministers.
For further study:
The Bible in a year: