by James A. Fowler
It is so important to safeguard the integrity of Christian giving and to avoid, if at all possible, any suspicion of misuse or misappropriation of the gifts that have been given. Paul was concerned that those who were entrusted with the responsibility of handling the monetary gifts, be "beyond reproach." In II Corinthians 8:20,21 he advises that they "take precaution that no one should discredit us in our administration of this generous gift; for we have regard for what is honorable, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men."
We all know that such integrity has not always been preserved in our day. Religious leaders have been incarcerated in federal prisons for financial fraud. Many religious organizations and personages have fraudulently mishandled and misappropriated funds given by Christians, failing to use designated funds for the purpose for which they were designated.
In 1979 the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) was established. They developed acceptable standards for financial accounting and credibility of Christian organizations, requiring annual audits and financial statements, requiring funds to be applied to the purposes for which they were raised, requiring the majority of the board members of Christian organizations to be comprised of non-family, non-staff and non-employee persons, and that these boards be genuine policy-making boards, not just rubber-stamp "Yes-men" for the primary personality. Wise Christians would do well to determine whether the Christian organization they choose to give to is an accountable member of the ECFA and abides by its standards. They are trying to preserve the integrity of Christian giving just as Paul was concerned to do as he wrote to the Corinthians.
The result of genuine Christian giving will be "thanksgiving to God" (II Corinthians 9:11,12). Thanksgiving which recognizes the "good grace" of God in the midst of the giving and the supply of the need. "Thanks be to God for His indescribable and inexpressible gift in Jesus Christ" (II Corinthians 9:15).
Christian living is Christian giving! Genuine Christians who are submitting themselves to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and are listening to God in obedience, cannot help but express the character of God's givingness. There will be no need to beg or cajole these Christians to give. No genuine Christian can say, "Well, it's just not my nature to give." As Christians we are "partakers of the divine nature" (II Peter 1:4), and God's nature is a giving nature. As God lives in us He gives through us. Such is Christian giving, the expression of God's grace!
©1999 by James A. Fowler
This is a sequence of articles. Though they were intended to be read in order, each article also stands alone. We've numbered them below so that you may choose to read them in sequential order.
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