Men of Integrity.
2 Corinthians 8:16-24
We are traveling together to guard against any criticism for the way we are handling this generous gift. – 2 Corinthians 8:20 NLT
Ministry has always had its critics. There will always be those who deem it their responsibility to find fault within the church and among its leadership. Paul was very familiar with this concept, having suffered all kinds of verbal and physical attacks by those who disagreed with his message and ministry. But Paul was more concerned with the reputation of the cause of Christ than his own well-being. He wanted to make sure that he never gave a reason for anyone to dispersions on the gospel or the name of Christ. He knew there were those out there who were constantly looking for even the smallest hint of impropriety, so that they could discredit Paul and the ministry.
So when it came to the collection of funds for the saints in Jerusalem, Paul knew that he had to do everything with integrity, taking extra special precautions to insure that no one could accuse him of financial mismanagement. He understood that accusations, even if false, could do lasting damage to the cause of Christ. That’s why he went out of his way to develop a plan for the collection and delivery of the financial gift for the Jerusalem church. Paul had assembled a team of three men, all well-known and respected among the various churches throughout the region. They would be coming to Corinth to retrieve the funds given by the believers there and combine them with the gifts given by the churches in Macedonia, Asia Minor and Galatia. Then this committee of three would travel together to Jerusalem to deliver the funds to the church leadership there.
Paul knew that he was handling the funds correctly. He had every confidence that what he was doing was God-honoring and morally ethical. But he also knew how important it was that others view his efforts as above-board and blameless. “We are careful to be honorable before the Lord, but we also want everyone else to see that we are honorable” (2 Corinthians 8:21 NLT). Paul was taking no chances when it came to the reputation of his ministry and the honor of Jesus Christ’s church. He was not going to give his critics or the enemies of the gospel any cause to question his integrity or cast doubt on his ministry. Isn’t it interesting that even in Paul’s day it was normal and natural for people to assume wrong-doing when money was involved? Financial mismanagement was common and expected. Paul knew that there would be those who simply assumed he was lining his pocket with the funds collected or skimming a percentage of the proceeds for his own benefit. That kind of thing went on all the time. But Paul wanted to prove that Christians weren’t like other people. He wanted to make it clear that believers handled their affairs with integrity and could be trusted to do the right thing – even when money was involved. It is so important for us to manage our affairs well – both corporately and individually. We all know well the stories of ministries and ministers who have been caught mismanaging the financial gifts given by trusting individuals. We’ve seen the news reports of greedy pastors and televangelists, growing wealthy off of the contributions of their flocks. The actions of these individuals, while few in number, have done a great deal of damage to the cause of Christ. They have caused many unbelievers to reject the message of Christ because they could no longer trust the messengers of Christ. Even believers, those who have found themselves tricked and deceived by men they once trusted, have walked away from the faith disillusioned and disappointed. The cause of Christ is too important to take risks. The name of Christ is too valuable to ever allow it to be damaged by our acts of indiscretion or failure to take the proper precautions. We are to be men and women of integrity in all that we do, because we represent the King.
Father, may we live in such a way that we never give our enemies a reason to discredit our ministry or Your Son’s name. We know that we will be attacked, but help us to live with integrity, so that there is no basis for those attacks. May we be honest, faithful, without reproach and constantly careful in how we handle every area of our lives – all for the glory of Your name and the good of the gospel. Amen.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men