2 Corinthians 8:16-24
Accountability in Churches
Well here is an odd topic for a devotion, but if the question be asked why I am writing on this passage of Scripture, the only answer I can give is … well, because it’s next.
I remember an older minister telling a story about serving as pastor of a small church when he was a young man. He loved the church and all things were going well. But there was one problem: Whenever payday came around, the treasurer couldn’t pay him his full salary—you know, the salary budgeted and thus agreed upon by the church that was his due. The church couldn’t figure out the problem. This continued for several months, and so there came the time when he had to leave the church for the reason that his pay was too small to live on. Sometime later it was discovered that the treasurer was pocketing some of the money. Well, one would think that the church should have been suspicious of that, but therein lies the problem: Churches, especially small family-oriented churches, are built on trust, and no one wants to think that Uncle Jim, who grew up in the church and whose grandparents still attend, would ever do such a thing, and it is virtually impossible to even broach the subject without offense. And so this story could be multiplied a thousand times in churches of all shapes and sizes.
And I don’t think these things happen by plan. That is, I surmise that the treasurer (or someone handling the money) is in financial straits and so takes $100 and tells himself that he will pay it back by the end of the week, and fully intends to do so. But then he can’t. And so he “borrows” another $100 the next week sure that he will pay it back by the end of the month. After a year of this he owes thousands and rationalizes his theft, “Well, I’ve attended that church for years and tithed and volunteered; surely I deserve something for all that!” It’s similar to the man and woman at the office who are struggling in their marriages, who find sympathetic ears and so begin, say, going out to lunch together. They have blinders on and think that they are just friends, but everyone else at the office can see right through it.
Paul speaks here of accountability: “We aim at what is honorable not only in the Lord’s sight but also in the sight of man.” And so it wasn’t only Paul but several men from various churches accompanying the gift to Jerusalem. We must exercise accountability both personally and in our churches; let’s just call it helping one another grow in godliness together. Otherwise, we risk scandal before a watching world—and we have had enough of that.