Paul the Tentmaker
The Apostle Paul knew something about shelters. His trade profession was tentmaking, a well established trade developed in the ancient world to provide housing and protection from the elements. Despite being called to be the Apostle to the gentiles, he routinely worked as a tentmaker to support himself and not burden the early church. Paul drew on this real world imagery to explain the brief existence of the followers of Christ here on Earth and the implications for eternity.
We Groan for the Eternal
Paul reminded the Corinthians that on this Earth suffering is commonplace but temporary. Just like today, life in the Roman Empire was filled with disharmony, heartache, societal conflicts, sin, and wrongful death. He encouraged them through his own experience and present circumstances in Asia Minor.
He explained why he and his companions did not lose heart despite these hardships. He testified, “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
“For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.”
Your Heart has a Heavenly Home
Knowing that our life here on Earth is not the goal or focus of Christian endeavors, Paul taught the Colossians to keep their thoughts directed above towards Christ and the promised future inheritance. He revealed that our entire future is hidden safely away in Heaven. He exhorted the brethren, “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”
Make His Attributes Fill Your Home
Since we have a new home in Christ, we are obligated to fill it with all the appropriate furnishings. Just as new wine doesn’t go into old wine skins, so our old earthly attributes should not decorate our new spiritual home. We need to establish new ones that are centered on Christ.
As a wise teacher, Paul directed the Colossians to, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” Encourage yourself and others to fill the rooms of the heart with such qualities as these.
|Kindness||X||Bearing with one another||X|
|Humility||X||Forgiving each other||X|
Rejoice in Your Permanent Home
Remember, Paul’s encouraging words that are recorded for our posterity in the letter to the Romans. He writes about this type of everlasting love, “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Let us learn to take heart like Paul. He had to learn through daily perseverance by the unbounded grace of Christ. Be motivated! The same living Lord loves you, and he is ready to shelter your heart. Just ask.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (2 Co 4:16–5:4). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Col 3:1–4). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Col 3:12–14). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ro 8:38–39). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.