Summary: Paul provides guidelines for administering the gifts entrusted to the congregation.

“Thanks be to God, who put into the heart of Titus the same earnest care I have for you. For he not only accepted our appeal, but being himself very earnest he is going to you of his own accord. With him we are sending the brother who is famous among all the churches for his preaching of the gospel. And not only that, but he has been appointed by the churches to travel with us as we carry out this act of grace that is being ministered by us, for the glory of the Lord himself and to show our good will. We take this course so that no one should blame us about this generous gift that is being administered by us, for we aim at what is honorable not only in the Lord’s sight but also in the sight of man. And with them we are sending our brother whom we have often tested and found earnest in many matters, but who is now more earnest than ever because of his great confidence in you. As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker for your benefit. And as for our brothers, they are messengers of the churches, the glory of Christ. So give proof before the churches of your love and of our boasting about you to these men.” [1]

Some years ago in Vancouver, the spiritual leader of the Cabalarian Society, a numerology cult located in that city, was arraigned before the courts for sexual misconduct and misappropriation of cult funds. The case was the subject of radio talk shows for months. The newspapers dispatched reporters to dig into multiplied allegations of misconduct, including financial mismanagement and fraud. Reporters charged that members of the cult claimed losses greater than sixteen million dollars over a period of years as result of misuse of donated funds.

The charges of financial deceit and deception are not so different from those pressed against Christian spiritual leaders a couple of decades past, including charges against such former religious luminaries as Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart. It seems as if such shenanigans are more commonplace for religious media stars than we might imagine. Names such as David Hocking, Gordon MacDonald, Ted Haggard and Benny Hinn are associated with seemingly endless scandals. Even when their immorality and greed is exposed, Phoenix-like they seem to rise from the ashes of the funeral pyre to begin anew deluding the gullible and promoting their own special connection to God.

When charges were first pressed against Mr. Bakker and later against Mr. Swaggart, supporters amazingly denied that either was capable of financial mismanagement. The same has been said of the other religious luminaries named a few moments ago. A frequent theme heard then, and a theme heard among members of the aforesaid Cabalarian Society, was that moneys are given by donors and that is the end of donor responsibility. Can it be true that when we have given funds to a cause we bear no further responsible? Have we no responsibility to review the work of those organisations to which we make donations? As Christians, do we bear any responsibility to insure financial integrity of charities to which we contribute? What responsibilities does God impose on those churches receiving contributions? If money represents the labours of those possessing it—money being a medium of exchange obtained through labour—it has an intimate attachment to those possessing it. Therefore, do we not bear responsibility for the ultimate employment, for the administration of our donated funds?

Contrary to the speculation of man, the questions are consequential; in fact, they are central to wise giving. Christians are to be generous, and they are to support those institutions which contribute to their spiritual welfare and to the advance of God’s Kingdom. However, not every religious society bears the blessing of God. Too many religious societies superficially appear to be Christian though they are actually false. Paul warned about such people when he cautioned the elders of Ephesus: “I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them” [ACTS 20:29, 30].

In the study today, I ask you to note Paul’s instructions concerning an offering for saints experiencing hardship in a distant location. He didn’t set out to draft rules and regulations for administering congregation moneys, but in reading what he has written we can see some wise rules for administration of moneys. We must always bear in mind that the gifts entrusted to the church are given for Christ’s glory; the moneys do not “belong” to the congregation—they are but administrators of the grace of God. Therefore, the people of God must act with discretion to avoid misuse of funds that actually belong to God.

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