33 “I coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. 34 You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me. 35 In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” (Acts 20:33–35)
One of the telltale signs of a pastor’s and elder’s integrity is the handling of their personal, and church, finances. How an individual handles money, especially if one is in the ministry, speaks volumes.
How well I remember the PTL scandal of 1987. Not only was the personal, immoral behavior of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker called into question, but also the mismanagement and frivolous way the ministry’s finances were handled. I personally knew people who supported the PTL Club and Heritage USA. They were devastated by the deceit from Christian leaders they trusted. How tragic and how sad.
It is interesting that the Apostle Paul stressed how he handled money with the utmost care. He did not covet other people’s wealth or their resplendent clothing. Paul indicated how he worked hard for his personal necessities. Paul was not afraid of working hard. He also indicated how he financially helped those who were his colleagues.
Paul’s reason for this transparency with the Ephesian church elders was so that his motives in preaching the Gospel would never be called into question. How often have we noticed those in full-time Christian service, especially televangelists, who place great emphasis on people giving to their ministry so that they can live a lavish lifestyle?
Dr. R. C. Sproul writes, “In short, he had not exploited anyone, for his was a ministry of giving. In this, too, the elders should consider him an example for their own conduct. His activities should instruct them to care for the weak, poor, destitute, and sick who are often cast aside in the world of this time. And they should see how his conduct fits with the proverb Paul attributed to Jesus, though it is recorded nowhere in the gospels: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
I encourage you to be discerning when giving finances to a particular ministry, or church. Are the finances conducted in a transparent and ethical manner? The church of which I am a member is particularly excellent in this matter. I have the utmost confidence that the tithes and offerings which I give, along with others, are handled in a way which glorifies the Lord.
Soli deo Gloria!