Financial Integrity: Passion and Process

The following is from one of my students at Colorado Christian University currently enrolled in a Fiscal Management for Nonprofit Organizations Class. Mariah (Riah) Hodges lives in Topeka, Kansas and volunteers at the Topeka Rescue Mission and Global Missions Ministries.

Bible Verse for Today:

Thanks be to God, who put into the heart of Titus the same concern I have for you. For Titus not only welcomed our appeal, but he is coming to you with much enthusiasm and on his own initiative. And we are sending along with him the brother who is praised by all the churches for his service to the gospel. What is more, he was chosen by the churches to accompany us as we carry the offering, which we administer in order to honor the Lord himself and to show our eagerness to help.We want to avoid any criticism of the way we administer this liberal gift. For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of man. (2 Corinthians 8:16-21 NIV)

Understanding the background of this passage helped my understanding and ability to gain some insights. Paul was concerned about the impact of a famine in Jerusalem and the suffering it was causing the Christians. He had received offerings from the Macedonians and was now sending Titus and two other brothers ahead to Corinth to receive their offerings. Paul would join up with Titus and his companions in Corinth. The entourage would then travel to Jerusalem to distribute the offerings to the suffering Christians. 

In 2 Corinthians 8:16-21, there are several points that stand out: 

1. Accountability requires the right heart.

Paul thanked God for giving Titus a heart of concern for those who were suffering, making him like-minded to Paul and the others. Titus took initiative, he was happy to help!

These verses remind us that God knits hearts together for a common cause. God placed Titus in Corinth and placed in him a heart for the people. As a result, he was more than willing to return to Jerusalem and help distribute the gifts to those who were in need. He did not complain. This was more than just cooperation. Titus was honored to serve the Lord this way and saw this more than just an “assignment” but as an undertaking that he “owned” or embraced. This was more than mission alignment, it was heart alignment.

We too need the right heart and attitude when it comes to receiving and distributing the Lord’s gifts. How do we view what is entrusted to us?

A few weeks ago, I was on a zoom call with Pastor Jim Walters of Servants of Christ International. Pastor Jim stated in this call “everything we have been given belongs to God.” He then made a comment that I enjoyed and changed my perspective on things. He said, even when his car needs repaired his thought isn’t “my car needs repaired, what am I going to do?!” Instead it’s “God, Your car needs repaired, what are You going to do?” I mention this little story because in any organization intended to help the needy, we have to recognize that the donations and gifts being given are not ours, but God’s, and we were simply trusted to distribute them accordingly and to be happy doing the Lord’s work that way! 

2.The men taking the gift were trusted.      

“and we are sending with him a brother who is praised by all the churches for his service to the gospel. What is more, he was chosen by the churches to accompany us as we carry the offering, which we administer in order to honor the Lord Himself and to show our eagerness to help” (2 Corinthians 8:18-19 NIV)

This brother is unknown to us but known by Paul and the Church. His desire was to honor God through his service. This brother was “chosen by the church” which indicates he had a good reputation and could be trusted by the Corinthians. His character paved the way for greater service and responsibility. Faithfulness leads to expanded opportunity to serve. That can be a great honor and reward.

We see Paul and his companions express the proper attitude and motivation when he says, we administer (this offering) “to honor the Lord himself and to show our eagerness to help.”

 In an organization that is intended to distribute gifts to those in need, donor motivation and trust are of great significance to succeed. Donors want to know that the organization can manage and distribute finances in a way that shows integrity, accountability and careful consideration. When they see we are capable of doing so, they begin to trust the organization and its abilities to honor God and serve those who are in need. What an honor it is to be able to serve the Lord and His children! 

3These verses remind us “there is safety in numbers”

“We want to avoid any criticism of the way we administer this liberal gift. For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord, but also in the eyes of man(2 Corinthians 8:20-21 NIV)

Titus, and the unnamed brothers (v.22) were entrusted with this task of collecting the offering and then joining with Paul to travel to Jerusalem to distribute it to those in need. There was not only the risk of traveling great distances, but the need for accountability as well. They approached their responsibility in a manner to make it difficult for people to place blame and claim they are being dishonest with the offering and did so in a way to avoid any “appearance of evil.” 

Paul says, “we are taking pains to do what is right.” Doing what is right might take longer, it might be more difficult, it will take more effort. But when it come to being faithful stewards it is what the Lord desires and deserves.