Hello and welcome to episode 75 of The Berean Manifesto brought to you by The Ekklesian House. This is Pastor Bill and over the next 10 minutes or so we`re going to take a look at being honorable in everyone’s eyes.
Starting as far back as the original 12 men that Christ himself put together, the Christian church has faced problems of misuse of ministry finances. In John 12:4-6 it says, “Then one of His Disciples, Judas Iscariot (who was about to betray Him), said, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He didn’t say this because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief. He was in charge of the money bag and would steal part of what was put in it.” Whether or not you’ve given it much thought, if you’ve ever donated money to a non-profit or even just paid your tithes, as I suggest you should (see episode 67), then it affects you.
In 2 Corinthians 8:21 Paul writes, “Indeed, we are giving careful thought to do what is right, not only before the Lord, but also before people.” In this passage Paul is specifically talking about the administration of the tithes and offerings that had been collected from the churches. He was working to ensure that no one would have any occasion to accuse him of injustice or partiality where the funds were concerned. It is the duty of all Christians to act prudently to prevent all unjust suspicions of us or occasions of scandal. We live in an overly critical world and need to take care not to give anyone cause to accuse us of anything. If someone accuses you falsely in this day and age it pretty much has no repercussions for them if the accusation is found to be untruthful and the damage is usually already done just by the accusation.
This is why non-profits, churches, and ministries should be careful and clear about how they handle the funds donated to them. And, those who handle the tithes and offerings that have been given should be extremely careful that all their finances, personal and in the ministry, are above the slightest suspicion. Paul himself shrank away from handling these funds to deny even the suspicion that he was appropriating them for his own personal use. Even when we know that we’ve not done anything wrong we have to be careful what things look like and make sure that the things entrusted to us are used appropriately. We see by the example of Paul here in 2 Corinthians 8 that he designated three believers to serve as accountability in the matter. First, Titus, who was his co-worker in ministry; next, a believer that the churches they had collected funds from respected, and third a believer that Paul and Titus had worked with in the past and trusted.
Likewise it is necessary that we all act uprightly in the sight of God, 2 Corinthians 5:10-11 says, “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may be repaid for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. Therefore, since we know the fear of the Lord, we try to persuade people. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your consciences.” We must also do right in the view of mankind as well; in Matthew 5:14-16 at the Sermon on The Mount Jesus says, “You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”
The good works you do, serving in church, going on missions trips, donating to churches and ministries, caring for the elderly, feeding the poor and sick; these things are not necessarily evidence of salvation as some who have left the faith have claimed as proof that they once believed. These things are good to do because it says in the verse we read in the Sermon on The Mount that those things point towards giving glory to God. However, that’s not what salvation is; it’s not proof of salvation that you’re doing these things. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For you are saved by grace through faith and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift – not from works, so that no one can boast.” In the same vein, going back to the Sermon on The Mount in Matthew chapter 6 Jesus goes on to say, “Be careful not to practice your charitable giving in front of others to be seen by them. Otherwise, you have no reward with your Father in heaven.” We must do good works to point people towards the Father, but at the same time some of these good works we have to do in private to give glory to the Father just on our own and make sure that we’re not in some way trying to get glory for ourselves in those good works.
In closing let’s take a look at 1 Peter 2:11-17, “Dear friends, I urge you as strangers and exiles to abstain from sinful desires that wage war against the soul. Conduct yourselves honorably among the Gentiles, so that when they slander you as evildoers, they will observe your good works and will glorify God on the day He visits. Submit to every human authority because of the Lord, whether to the emperor as the supreme authority or to the governors as those sent out by him to punish those who do what is evil and to praise those who do what is good. For it is God’s will that you silence the ignorance of foolish people by doing good. Submit as free people, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but as God’s slaves. Honor everyone. Love the brothers and sisters. Fear God. Honor the emperor.”
This is Pastor Bill saying, “Until next time…”