Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Turning money down is polite. Turning gifts down is downright rude. Working for free - that's a crime.

Ever since I was 5, when my Uncle Eric would come to visit and, as he left, press a big silver 10p piece into my hand, I have just not had Christ's willpower to resist. Presuming of course that Jesus did turn down such things as a kid. I'd really like to find out just how, as a carpenter, he dealt with money. Did he give all his furniture away free, having fashioned it all from one plank of wood "fish and loaves" style? But I'm getting off the point here.

I have learnt that there are 3 stages to refusing payment for voluntary work:

Stage 1: "Here, take this money, it's not much, but I insist. No, I insist. I INSIST."

Stage 2: "Oh no, it's not a payment - it's a gift."

Stage 3: “Let me buy something for you.”

Queen Street, Auckland CBD, New Zealand
Today, one of my Korean friends/students, who I have been teaching English to, took me shopping, as a gift. Having lived off of God's uncanny supernatural provision for a while now, (the last time I needed to buy food, phone-calls or internet time was back in 2004) I had developed a short list of non-necessary stuff that I wanted. I considered today to be God's way of magnanimously providing some of these things.

So my friend kindly bought me a pair of British-definition pants, a Snickers bar, a meal at Burger King, an orange juice, 2x L plates (it's a long story), 3x 35mm camera films, a $10 cinema voucher (see next Tuesday), 4x watch batteries, 20x AA batteries, 10x postage stamps, Mentoes, a $20 mobile phone voucher and a 2005 diary. I know what you're thinking - and I could easily afford all of these things - but that's not the point. I would much rather pray and let God provide them, as indeed He did today.

I thought about stocking up on some stuff that I know I'll need shortly, like toothpaste (which I've never bought here), but I realised that this would be storing up my treasures on Earth. I'd prefer to leave my toothpaste with God, where it will be safe until I need it. My securities are in Him.

People just don't get this.

As our hour drew to a close, with more than half my alloted figure unspent, my friend kept trying to thrust this envelope containing the rest of the cash into my hand.

Korean Friend: "Why don't you just take the money and buy these things yourself?"

Me: "Because I don't want to even touch the money. Jesus didn't accept money for His ministry. I'd prefer to let you just give me a few small free gifts, like I've given you a free gift."

Korean Friend: "But the money is a gift."


Me: "But it may look like a payment."

Korean Friend: "To who? No-one will know."

Me: "I will know. I will not be paid money. I will not even look as if I am being paid money. I want to be able to look people square in the eyes and honestly tell them that I have not accepted any monetary payments in all the time that I have been here."

Korean Friend: "Show me your wrist."

Me: "What?"

Korean Friend: "Your wrist. Show me your wrist."

So we stopped outside Nando's, I put my backpack down, pulled-up my sleeves and bore my wrists at him.

Korean Friend: "No, no, your wrist, in your pocket, what else do we still have to buy?"

After a moment, the penny dropped.

Me: “Ohhh, you must mean wrist.”

Well at least my English lessons hadn't been worth paying for.


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