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Finally, let us consider Paul's attitude in relation to funds that the church passed through his hands and which others wanted him to manage. In 2 Corinthians 8:1-4 he wrote, "Furthermore we make known to you, brothers, the grace of God which has been given in the churches of Macedonia, that in much proving of affliction the abundance of their joy and the depth of their poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality; that according to their power, I testify, and beyond their power, of their own accord, with much entreaty they besought of us the grace and the fellowship of the ministry to the saints." God's children must be strict in this matter. When a worker goes to a place to work for the Lord, this must be his attitude whenever he touches money. The brothers in Macedonia offered financial assistance to the brothers suffering from famine in Jerusalem. First, Paul informed them of the calamity. After they heard it, they went beyond their ability in the depth of their poverty and affliction to care for the brothers in Jerusalem. What did they do? Paul said that with much entreaty they sought the grace and the fellowship of the ministry to the saints. This was the attitude of the Macedonians in offering financial aid for the care of the saints' needs. They wanted to have a share in this grace. They did not care if they were in poverty and affliction themselves; they still wanted to have a share in this work. Because of this, they entreated Paul again and again. In other words, Paul did not allow them to give the first time. This shows a proper attitude. A worker of the Lord should not accept just any money that comes his way, even when it is not for his own use. It was true that the brothers in Jerusalem were in need, but it was not simply a matter of getting money and forwarding it to the saints. The Macedonian brothers were in dire need themselves, and Paul told them to take back their offering. But they came again and again; they pleaded with Paul again and again, with much entreaty, to be allowed to share in the grace of ministering to the saints. Both sides acted beautifully. This is the proper Christian way. On the one hand, the giver says, "Though I am poor and in need myself, I still will give. Though it is beyond my strength to give, I will still give." On the other hand, the worker says, "You should not give." This is beautiful! Eventually, the worker says, "If you really want to give, I have no way to stop you." This is the proper attitude of a worker. Paul was taking care of the affairs of the church. Although he saw the need in Jerusalem and wanted to take care of the brothers' need, his attitude was different from that of many workers today. He allowed the Macedonian churches to participate in the grace of ministering to the saints only after they had pleaded with him again and again.
In 2 Corinthians 8:16-22 Paul said, "But thanks be to God who puts the same earnestness on your behalf in the heart of Titus, because he not only received the entreaty, but being more earnest, he also went forth of his own accord to you. And we sent together with him the brother whose praise in the gospel is throughout all the churches, and not only this, but who has also been selected by the churches as our fellow traveler in this grace which is being ministered by us, to the glory of the Lord Himself and to demonstrate our eagerness; avoiding this, that anyone should find fault with us in this abundance which is being ministered by us. For we exercise foresight for what is honorable not only in the sight of the Lord but also in the sight of men. And we sent with them our brother..." Here we see Paul's arrangement. In forwarding others' money to Jerusalem, he was very upright in his procedure. No servant of God can ever be careless in the matter of money. What did Paul say? He said, "Avoiding this, that anyone should find fault with us in this abundance which is being ministered by us." Paul asked one, two, even three brothers to manage the money; he did not manage it himself. What did the three brothers do? He said, "For we exercise foresight for what is honorable not only in the sight of the Lord but also in the sight of men." In the administration of funds, the only way to avoid a problem is to let two or three persons be in charge.
Because money is such a serious matter, Paul, writing both to Timothy and Titus, declared that no covetous person should be allowed to hold the position of an elder (1 Tim. 3:3; Titus 1:7). In 1 Timothy 3:8 the same stipulation was made regarding the office of a deacon. No man is qualified to be an elder or a deacon who has not overcome money. A basic qualification for being an elder or a deacon is to not be covetous of money. We must deal solemnly with the matter of money. Peter wrote in the same strain as Paul. He said, "Shepherd the flock of God among you...not by seeking gain through base means but eagerly" (1 Pet. 5:2). No one who is covetous can shepherd the flock of God.
May the Lord be gracious to us so that we would deal thoroughly with the matter of money. Unless we settle the issue of covetousness, we will find ourselves in difficulties sooner or later. In fact, we will become useless in the way. If we do not settle this issue, we cannot deal with other issues, and we will surely face problems and troubles down the road. We must not be influenced by money in any way. Whenever we hear anyone criticizing us, we have to learn to reject their gift. At the same time, we have to learn to bear others' burdens. We should not only take care of our own needs and the needs of our co-workers, but we should take care of the needs of all the brothers and sisters as well. If we can handle the matter of money in a proper way, we will have done a great thing. Those who have not settled the basic issue of money can never work in a good way.