VIII. THE WAY THE WORKERS HANDLE THEIR FINANCES
First, workers should not make others feel that they are poor. A worker lives by faith, not by alms giving. It is a shame to let others know that you are poor with the hope of receiving support. When a worker receives a supply from the brothers, he should have the proper attitude. When a worker receives money from the brothers, he is receiving this money on God’s behalf. He stands on God’s side and represents God. Therefore, he should not have a beggarly attitude. When Paul mentioned the matter of money, he gave others an honorable and respectable impression. This is the proper attitude for every worker.
Second, whenever any worker receives more than other workers, he should distribute the excess to the other workers. Do not be afraid that by doing this, others will misunderstand and think that you are rich or have struck a fortune. Moreover, for personal family needs, there is sometimes the necessity of short-term savings. This is scriptural. Proverbs teaches this.
Third, there must be some planning in the way one uses his money. Many people buy useless things when they have money. This kind of behavior will stop God’s supply. One has to plan the way he uses his money. One must have a budget and carefully consider before God what he should and should not buy. He should not buy carelessly and waste money.
Fourth, workers must never borrow. A worker of God should prefer to die than borrow from others. If he does not have the faith that his living will be cared for, he should look for some work to sustain his living. If he has the faith that God will sustain him, he should not stretch out his hand to others.
IX. THE PRINCIPLE OF MANNA
Today, God desires that we walk according to the principle of manna. The principle of manna is: "He who gathered much had no excess, and he who gathered little had no lack" (2 Cor. 8:15). This is not just the record in the Old Testament. The New Testament tells us the same thing. Being in excess and being in want are both wrong. If a brother in a locality cannot get by and has no means to support his living, either the church or individual believers should help him. The church cannot sit there and do nothing for the brothers who are unemployed; it must do its best to help them. Of course, this does not include those who will not work. We cannot help those who are not willing to work. We can only help those who are willing to work. Moreover, if the earning of a brother is not enough to support his living, the church must again come in to help. The same is true with those whose income is too low. It was this kind of work that the apostles did in the early church.
The order for helping is to care for the brothers and sisters in your locality first, and then to help the poor people outside. If believers have close family members who have needs, they should care for the needs of their own relatives first, before caring for the needs of other people.
No one should give offerings without first having some careful consideration. A naturally loose person will not receive the Lord’s blessing through excessive giving, because a person who is loose with his finances will surely be loose in the things of the Lord. We have to learn to be a consecrated person before the Lord, not a loose person.
For a believer, giving is not a matter of simply offering money. One must have a proper living before God before his giving can receive God’s blessing. The third Epistle of John mentions that the saints who support the workers need to have a living worthy of God and one that is in a godly manner. A person who gives must live a life that is worthy of God. Thank the Lord that everyone is not a Lazarus, and everyone is not a rich man. God does not need Lazarus, nor does He need the rich man. He only needs the offerings of those whose living is worthy of Him. Although Lazarus did not have money, he could be saved; he could receive grace and live a life worthy of God. The flesh has two sins before God. One is the severe treatment of the body mentioned in Colossians 2. The other is to indulge oneself in comfort. God has no intention for us to treat our body severely, but neither does He want us to live too comfortably. He wants us to live a life that is worthy of Him. All excess money should be given away as quickly as possible.
X. THE LETTER OF RECOMMENDATION
The last thing to mention is the letter of recommendation. Paul mentioned this to the Corinthians. This is something found in the New Testament. When an ordinary believer goes to a new locality, he should have a letter of recommendation. Paul mentioned in his Epistle that he himself did not need a letter of recommendation. This is because Paul had already built up a relationship with the Corinthians. This is why he was an exception. As to the other brothers and sisters, a letter of recommendation was still necessary. The function of the letter is twofold. First, it allows others to know you. Second, it prevents false brothers from coming in. Every letter of recommendation should be witnessed by two or three persons before it can be validated. Usually a letter of recommendation is written by the local elders or the responsible persons. There are three kinds of letters:
(1) Those that recommend a brother to the Lord’s table, attesting that he is a brother in the Lord. This is mainly for the brothers who are still in the denominations.
(2) Those that recommend that a brother has left the denominations and is taking the way we take.
(3) In addition to those taking this way, there are those who have special gifts and can be invited to speak.
After receiving a letter of recommendation, the local responsible ones should send a letter of reply to the sending locality, verifying that the letter of recommendation was received. Such letters of recommendation and replies should be prepared ahead of time and printed according to a standard form, so that they can be used easily. Every time a brother comes from another locality, he needs to give us a letter of recommendation before we can receive him at the Lord’s table. We will likewise furnish those who go out from us with a letter of recommendation. I hope that we all will pay attention to this matter in the future.
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 11: The Present Testimony (4), Chapter 16, by Watchman Nee)