Wise Handling of Funds
2 Cor 8:16-9:1-5
Chapters 8 and 9 contains the instructions concerning giving and handling monetary matters for the poor saints in Jerusalem. It is the most in detailed directions about giving and handling of the Lord’s money which New Testament churches should follow and set as a standard. Paul was anxious that
nobody accuse him of misusing these missionary funds, so he had the churches appoint three messengers to handle the money. They were Titus (vv. 16-17), another brother (vv. 18-19), and a third associate (v. 22). This is a good business practice. It is sad to see churches and Christian organizations handle funds in an unbusinesslike manner. All money should be receipted and
recorded. Funds should be counted by more than one person. Many a Christian worker has lost his power and testimony because of a misuse of funds or because of carelessness in handling the Lord’s money.
Illustration 1: The Briefcase
Last winter, a lowly-paid waiter in a major city found a briefcase containing cash and negotiables in a parking lot—and no owner in sight. No one saw the waiter find it and put it in his car in the wee hours of the morning. But for the waiter, there was never any question of what to do. He took the briefcase home, opened it, and searched for the owner’s identity. The next day he made a few phone calls, located the distressed owner, and returned the briefcase—along with the $25,000 cash it contained!
The surprising thing about this episode was the ridicule the waiter experienced at the hands of his friends and peers. For the next week or so he was called a variety of names and laughed at, all because he possessed a quality the Bible holds in high regard: integrity. Today in the Word, July, 1989, p. 18
I. Helpfulness of the Brothers (2 Cor. 8:16-20)
A. “But thanks be to God… Titus” (2 Cor. 8:16). in the ministry, you cannot do it all by yourself. you need somebody to help you do more, somebody who is willing and available. Titus initially encouraged the Corinthians to begin the collection at least one year earlier. When he returned to Corinth with a severe letter, Paul encouraged him to help the believers finish the collection of money for the support for the poor saints in Jerusalem.
B. “For indeed he… of his own accord he went unto you” (2 Cor. 8:17): Titus desired and chose the work. He needed no request from Paul to do it. He gladly accepted Paul’s suggestion. His willingness and availability have been very beneficial to the Lord’s work.
C. “And we have sent him with the brother… “(2 Cor. 8:18): “The brother whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches” is unknown. It is pointless to guess who he was. His devoted service to the Christian faith had won for him the praise of all believers. The churches chose him to travel with Paul and lighten the burden of getting the collection to Jerusalem.
D. “Avoiding this, that no man should blame us… “(2 Cor. 8:20): There were evil minded persons who might charge that the apostle had used the gifts for his own advantage unless the messengers could report just how the funds were used. “The churches” chose the brother to travel with Paul. This appointment had Paul’s full consent, for he wished to make sure no one should have any ground for criticizing or suspecting his conduct in “this abundance which is administered by us.” He used every precaution in receiving and disbursing the funds entrusted to him.
E. Paul’s enemies were contemptible enough to intimate that his interest in the collection was not unselfish and that there was no reason for them to suspect him of any foul deeds.
II. Honesty and integrity (2 Cor. 8: 21- 23)
A. “Providing for honest things…” (2 Cor. 8:21) It is not enough to say “God knows my heart; my conscience is clear”. Men are watching, transparency is needed to avoid suspicion and to show honesty and integrity in handling financial matters. We should not allow the enemies to find a reason to accuse us of dishonesty.
B. “And we have sent with them our brother…” (2 Cor. 8:22): Not Paul’s personal brother, but a brother in Christ, one whom Paul had tested and was willing to trust. It may have been Tychicus or Apollos, but we do not know. The men whom Paul chose were beyond reproach. Titus was his partner and “fellow-helper” in all that concerned the welfare of the Corinthian church. “The messengers of the churches” were specially chosen delegates of the churches. That should be enough to guarantee their standing and ability. These men were an honor to their Master. They are “the glory of Christ.”
Illustration :2 Honest Rancher
During his time as a rancher, Theodore Roosevelt and one of his cowpunchers lassoed a maverick steer, lit a fire, and prepared the branding irons. The part of the range they were on was claimed by Gregor Lang, one of Roosevelt’s neighbors.
According to the cattleman’s rule, the steer therefore belonged to Lang. As his cowboy applied the brand, Roosevelt said, “Wait, it should be Lang’s brand.”
“That’s all right, boss,” said the cowboy.
“But you’re putting on my brand,” Roosevelt said.
“That’s right,” said the man.
“Drop that iron,” Roosevelt demanded, “and get back to the ranch and get out. I don’t need you anymore. A man who will steal for me will steal from me.”
Today in the Word, March 28, 1993
III. Proof of love (2 Cor. 8:24)
A. “Wherefore show… the proof of your love…” (2 Cor. 8:24): The proof of love is in giving. The proof of loving is not in praying. Praying may be one of the most selfish engagements we keep. It can become a religious “give-me” exercise. The proof of loving God is not in worship. Worship may be for the sake of religious respectability. The “proof” of loving God is in giving one’s self to God.
B. Love thrives on giving. It dies in withholding. The greatest example of love we have is in God. He “So loved the world, that he gave His only begotten son” (John 3:16).
C. Paul wanted the Corinthians to show the visiting messengers of the churches and his workers “the proof of your love, and of our boasting on your behalf.” An ill reputation would not only reflect upon the churches but upon Paul himself.
Illustration 3: Tithing
W. A. Criswell tells of an ambitious young man who told his pastor he’d promised God a tithe of his income. They prayed for God to bless his career. At that time he was making $40.00 per week and tithing $4.00. In a few years his income increased and he was tithing $500.00 per week. He called on
the pastor to see if he could be released from his tithing promise, it was too costly now.
The pastor replied, “I don’t see how you can be released from your promise, but we can ask God to reduce your income to $40.00 a week, then you’d have no problem tithing $4.00.” W. A. Criswell, A Guidebook for Pastors, p. 156
IV. Sending of delegates (2 Cor. 9:1-5)
A. Paul has actually boasted to other churches about the generosity of the Corinthians, based upon their initial enthusiasm of making a contribution to the poor. Corinth is a major city of the region of Achaia. When Paul spoke to the other churches of Achaia about the generosity of the Corinthians (2 Cor. 9:2), they also promised to make a contribution. And their contributions have already been collected, awaiting the arrival of Paul and/or others to transport the monies to Jerusalem. This creates an embarrassing situation for Paul. The churches of Achaia have their offerings ready to collect, but the church he uses as a good example of generosity is not ready with their contribution. The Macedonians who will be coming with Paul to collect the Corinthian contribution will be appalled, Paul ‘s boasting will prove to be vain, and
both he and the Corinthians will be embarrassed. (2 Cor. 9:3-4)
B. This is the reason Paul takes the decisive action of sending the delegation to Corinth ahead of him 2 Cor. 9:5). He does not want the Corinthians to fail in this area. They have already repented of other wrongs; now let them make good on their promise to give to the poor. Time is short, but with the encouragement and facilitating gifts of this delegation, the Corinthians still have time to make good on their promise.
Truly we must handle the Lord’s money wisely. In business-like manner, in honesty and integrity, the finances must be handled to avoid suspicion from fellow believers as well as non-believers. My advice is, do it the Biblical way for its is only the correct way.