In church administration generally, but particularly in matters of finance, we not only need to be above board, but seen to be above board. Here is a vital example to follow: ”We want to avoid any criticism of the way we handle this liberal gift. For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of men.” (20, 21). ”We don’t want anyone suspecting us of taking one penny of this money for ourselves. We’re being as careful in our reputation with the public as in our reputation with God.” The Message. ”Naturally we want to avoid the slightest breath of criticism in the distribution of their gifts, and to be absolutely aboveboard not only in the sight of God but in the eyes of men.” J.B. Phillips . If you remember, this collection was taken to help the poor Christians in Jerusalem. When people give to a cause, they want to know that their money is going to that cause, and not being diverted somewhere else.
In particular, Paul took pains to show that the men carrying the money were trustworthy, and not like Judas, dipping into the funds for their own gain. Essentially he gives them ‘character references’ in this passage.
- He mentions Titus and his qualities (16, 23; see also 6). But Paul wisely did not leave this in the hands of one man, however great his reputation was. He didn’t want to leave him exposed to possible criticism (or even temptation?).
- He also says: ”We’re sending a companion along with him, someone very popular in the churches for his preaching of the Message. But there’s far more to him than popularity. He’s rock-solid trustworthy. The churches handpicked him to go with us as we travel about doing the work of sharing God’s gifts to honor God as well as we can, taking every precaution against scandal.” The Message. (See Prov.22:1) He is described, in the ‘New International Version’ as ”…the brother who is praised by all the churches for his service to the gospel.” (18)
- Then Paul mentions ‘‘another trusted friend” The Message (22) as part of the ‘finance team’. ”He’s proved his dependability many times over and carries on as energetically as the day he started.” The Message.
Paul could say about the two men accompanying Titus, ”they are representatives of the churches and an honour to Christ.” (23). ”The brothers who travel with him are delegates from the churches, a real credit to Christ.” The Message.
So it is our responsibility to ensure that all who handle church money are of unblemished character without a sniff of suspicion surrounding them. We owe it to the world; we owe it to the church. Above all, we owe it to the Lord Himself.
Prayer: Thank you Lord that you have blessed us so that we can be generous. It is a privilege to give.