Scripture: 2 Corinthians 8: 16-24
Whereas we have been talking primarily of the responsibility and priviledge of giving, tonight we are talking about the integrity of handling the money that is given in good faith by believers.
I have been in the ministry for 47 years and I can tell you from experience, it is not important to handle the tithes and offering with integrity, it is vital. The last thing any church needs is a question about the money and how it is being used. We do have some discretionary funds that are not made public but any member or contributor has the right to review the books and records. We do have a benevolent fund and we have helped various families and we did it in a discret and private way [several reasons for not making these gifts public] but nothing is hid from those who give the money. You are more than welcome to stop by and we will show you exactly where the money went and I will take full responsibility. I do discus all benevolent needs with the deacons except in cases of emergency. Nothing is hiden.
I heard a radio broadcast this morning about the failure of the public school or government education. At one time, the U.S. ranked one in the world and now we are close to the bottom. I’ll tell you why its a failure and it has nothing or very little to do with the teachers.  The Federal Government filing it up which they do to everything  and no accountability to the public, to the tax payers. There are more bureaucrats in education than there are teachers and they make more money. If you tried to run a business the way public education and the postal service is run, you would go bankrupt. Accountability may not be pleasant but it makes us better.
Those who handle church money should be….
I. SERVANTS: THEY SHOULD HAVE A DESIRE TO SERVE OTHERS [V.16-17]
So when we are putting someone on the budget committee, it needs to be someone like Titus, someone who is enthusiastic about God’s work.
II. SINCERE IN THEIR LOVE FOR OTHERS [V.18]
We are also sending another brother with Titus. All the churches praise him as a preacher of the Good News.
This unnamed member of Paul Finance Committee was a faithful preacher of the gospel and he cared enough about the situation to take the risk of travel. Travel is getting dangerous today because of the shere numbers. June could not get over the volume of traffic last Friday as we made our way the Florida. It was very heavy all day long. Travel was far more dangerous in Paul’s day than today. Paul for example was in three ship wrecks. Fortunately, he survived all three but in most ship wrecks, there were no survivors. The fact that this unnamed committee member was willing to risk his life was an indication of his sincerety.
III. THEY MOTIVE SHOULD BE TO HONOR CHRIST [V.19]
19 He was appointed by the churches to accompany us as we take the offering to Jerusalem —a service that glorifies the Lord and shows our eagerness to help.
Paul had previously said to the Corinthians, So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. When it comes to handling the church’s money, we should do it in such a way that God would get glory.
IV. THEY MUST HAVE A GOOD REPUTATION AS BEING HONEST [V.20-22]
- We have to be causious. We must be proactive when it comes to criticism. What can we do to prevent criticism. We cannot go to the extreme of letting the tail wag the dog; we are not to give in to the critics but at the same time, why give them fodder. Critism can be very hurtful whether it is justified or not. It is to be avoided if possible
- We have to be careful. We know the LORD is watching but we must assume that people are watching as well. There has to be accountability. It is foolish for any church not to have an accountability system in play. My home church got burned when I was just a boy. The treasurer was a likable man whom everyone respected but he did not manage his own resources well and I don’t think they knew it. He got behind on his bills and he borrowed money from the church. Since he was the only one who saw the offering, he was able to do this for some years. The technical term for this is embezzlement. Full disclosure was never given but it got into the thousands and this was in the 1950’s. Mercy and grace were extended because he was related to several in the church and he was not a villian, he just had the wrong weakness to be handling money. The same thing has happened right here in Morgan County at least three times since I have been at Danville. I was a personal friend to the pastor in one such case and many of you know that man who embezzled. He is a respected man in the community but he stole thousands of dollars from a church. He was shrewd and there was no hard evidence, just missing information and missing money. He resigned his position and moved to another church. Treasuers are not the only ones guilty, in some cases, pastors have been given too much liberty and they have embezzled and some were forced to pay the money back. My rule is simple: I don’t handle the church’s money. I don’t count it, don’t deposit it and I don’t keep it. I also insist that no member of my family be responsible for church money.
- We must make ourselves accountable by involving more than one or even two people. Paul believed the more, the merrier so he was bringing it this unnamed person to accompany them when there was already a half-d0zen on the team. Some people love the old days and the old ways because of the secrecy but you should not be ashamed of what you give and neither should I. I could very easily see a person questioning my stewardship: “He is always talking about tithing, I wonder if he tithes.” Well, you don’t have to wonder. It is all a matter of public record and although we do not publish giving records publically, they are available if needed. I don’t want to be a legalist but if my pastor was not tithing, I’d want to know it. There is nothing wrong with accountability.