BIBLE READING: ACTS 18:1-3; 1 CHRONICLES 12:1-2
I had no desire for anyone’s silver or gold or [expensive] clothes. You know personally that these hands ministered to my own needs [working in manual labor] and to [those of] the people who were with me. In everything I showed you [by example] that by working hard in this way you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed [and brings greater joy] to give than to receive.’ Acts 20:33-35 (AMP).
Jabal, one of the sons of Lamech invented tent making which was one of the earliest forms of real estate (see Gen.4:20). Tentmaking is a skill which is learnt and then deployed as service to meet the needs of clients and also generate resources to take care of the tentmaker and others. It is important to have a clear understanding of the term “Marketplace” in order to enable us understand the strategy of Marketplace Ministry.
Simply put, Marketplace Ministry means living the life of a Disciple of Jesus Christ in the workplace and seeking to win and disciple the lost there through every legitimate means possible. The Marketplace in Scripture was the town square where the people mingled and served as the life of the society (see Acts 17:16-18).
As a result of the strategic position and influence of the Marketplace, Jesus Christ said a lot and engaged the Marketplace to harness its potential in advancing His Purpose on the Earth. Here are highlights of the Lord’s interaction with the Marketplace to help us maximise our engagement:
(1.) He described the people as children in a Marketplace and not children in a Church Compound because that is where the Lost are located and can be reached (see Lk. 7:32).
(2.) He told Parables about events in the Marketplace (see Matt. 20:1-3).
(3.). He Preached and Healed in the Marketplace (see Mk. 6:56).
(4.) He repeatedly condemned the attitude of Pharisees in the Marketplace (see Lk. 11:43; 20:46).
(5.) He Taught His Disciples how to live in the Marketplace because the Scriptures can only be thoroughly fulfilled both in the Church and the Marketplace (see Matt. 5:13-16).
(6.) He taught His Disciples how to Pray for and Seek His Will in the Marketplace (see Matt 6:9-10).
(7.) He sent His Disciples into the Marketplace (see Mk. 16:15).
In Acts 18:1-3, Apostle Paul modelled Christ’s Example and leveraged on his skill as a tentmaker in the Marketplace to fulfill his ministry. As a tentmaker, he laboured by practicing his trade so that he would not be a financial burden while proclaiming the Gospel – “For you remember, believers, our labor and hardship. We worked night and day [practicing our trade] in order not to be a [financial] burden to any of you while we proclaimed the Gospel of God to you. 1Thess. 2:9 (AMP).
In harnessing the potentials in the Marketplace, it is pertinent to discern the operation of darkness at the foundation of the Marketplace which has designed employment or trade to take the Place of God in people’s lives by giving it all your time with little or no time to spend advancing God’s Agenda on Earth. The objective of darkness in the Marketplace is to deify jobs and relegate the True God to the background because the world’s system will occupy and distract you from your Work (Divine Mission) if Wisdom is not applied to reap the overripe Harvest in your sphere of influence. Your job is your skill-set that you deploy in the Marketplace like tentmaking while your Work is to do the Will of God in the Marketplace and finish it like Paul (see 2Tim. 4:7).
Father, I thank You for the Gift of the Marketplace and the Model You gave us in harnessing the potentials therein. I ask for Wisdom to discern the deception in the Marketplace that is orchestrated to keep me too busy for Your Mandate. Lord, help me to represent You effectively so that men will give You all the Glory in Jesus’ Name. Amen.