In our Sunday morning sermon series on Generosity, we considered the Biblical instructions concerning financial giving. Some of the issues we considered were the focus of an earlier post.
As we looked at 2 Cor 8, we didn’t however have the time to look in detail at the second half of the chapter. The first half of chapter 8 contains great wisdom for believers as they prayerfully consider their financial giving to the church around the world. The second half however gives us an invaluable insight into how the Apostle Paul and the early church approached the issue of handling money.
The church in Corinth had collected their financial gift for the poor believers in Jerusalem. Now came the issue of how the money was to be moved there and in this the Apostle Paul takes some very clear steps.
1. The Apostle Paul himself does not handle the money
To avoid the appearance of wrong doing and to ensure he and the church are protected from accusations of financial impropriety, the Apostle Paul keeps a distance between himself and the money. He has given the instructions that the church in Corinth should be generous in their giving, but he doesn’t want anyone – believer or unbeliever – to think for a moment that his motive might be personal gain. This is not a collection to line his own pocket. This money is for believers in need.
2. The responsibility of handling the money is given to not 1 person, but 3 highly regarded people to do together.
Paul does not simply delegate the adminstration of this financial gift to one trusted church minister. Even that scenario would carry with it at least the potential for scandal. No, instead the Apostle Paul calls upon three men to work together; Titus (v16,17), a second unnamed brother ‘who is praised by all the churches’ (v18,19), and third unnamed man ‘who has proved to us in many ways that he is zealous’ (v22). Each of them known and respected by the churches; each of them held in high regard by Paul (v23).
This may seem a little over-the-top. Were these steps really necessary? God, after all, knows the hearts of men and women and would know if they were honest or not and judge them accordingly. And yet the Apostle Paul is convinced such steps are necessary. Why? In v21, the key verse, Paul gives his reason:
3. Honesty must been witnessed by God AND the world (v21)
Here is how the Apostle Paul explains this principle:
‘For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of man’ (v21)
It is not enough that the right thing is done with regard to the handling of money. More than that, the right thing MUST BE SEEN to be done by a world watching and waiting for scandal. Christians must prove themselves to be honest and be able to provide open accounts of their dealings with money.
Here at Rock Baptist Church we go to great lengths to ensure such openness and honesty mark our own financial and legal affairs. The elders, the leaders of the church, never handle the church’s money; we have Trustees who ensure we meet all legal requirements as a Charitable organisation; and in our activities we take great pains to ensure we meet all government regulations concerning working with children and organising activities. In all our affairs, we want to take ‘pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of man.’
We owe a debt of thanks to our deacons and our Trustees who work hard on our behalf in this regard. And yet we never want to become complacent. I wonder if you can think of any further steps we might take?