2 Corinthians 8:20, 21
Avoiding this, that no man should blame us in this abundance which is administered by us:…
I. STRICTEST HONESTY IS, OF COURSE, ESSENTIAL. How can a man preach this common Christian virtue if he lacks it himself? How can his ministry in spiritual things be blessed if he is tainted with the slightest dishonesty in things carnal? What peace of conscience can he possess if he knows that herein he is faulty; and without peace in his own conscience how can he minister in the gospel of all peace? Those who bear the vessels of the Lord must be clean. What a fearful condemnation will be theirs who, whilst expatiating upon the preciousness of heavenly treasure, are all the while dishonestly grasping the treasure which perishes!
II. STRICTEST HONESTY IS NOT SUFFICIENT. A servant of God may be perfectly innocent, and yet by carelessness may give occasion to some to denounce him as guilty. It is not only needful to do right, it is needful to appear to do right as well. Whilst no man should be content with satisfying men apart from God, a wise man will not rest content with satisfying God and his own conscience, but will recognize the importance of not giving a handle for reproach to those amongst whom he lives. Prudent, indeed, was the apostle when he resolved to "take thought for things honourable, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men" (ver. 21). Through lack of such wisdom on the part of ministers:
1. Many a ministerial reputation has been wrecked. The lie has been believed, and has been believed because it has been corroborated by unwise conduct. A lie thus strengthened is very attractive to many minds. Lies need no help on our part. It is often easier to make a man believe the barest lie than to make him believe the barest truth. It has been quaintly said, "A lie will travel round the world before truth has finished putting on its boots."
2. Powerful ministers have been rendered impotent.
3. Churches have been greatly injured. The shadow falling upon the minister has spread its darkness over the Church.
4. Many have become prejudiced against the gospel.
5. Much dishonour has fallen upon the Name of Christ. Christians dare not be careless; they carry with them the honour of their Master. It is not a question about being careless of our own name; the matter affects his Name. No man can afford to despise popular opinion in such a matter as this. If a false accusation has been brought without occasion given, that accusation will have the elements of weakness in it, and may generally be successfully repelled; but if occasion has been given, the honest man furnishes evidence of his own dishonesty, he forges the chain wherewith he is bound, he signs his own condemnation. Public men have many enemies. Ministers are the targets of the devil, and often of the devil's children. Great wisdom do they need to walk so that they shall not unwittingly furnish their adversaries with a weapon against themselves and their cause. This applies, of course, not only to money matters, but to all matters. 'Tis the utmost folly to present our own sword to the foe. If we fall, let it be by our enemy's weapon, not by our own. - H.
Parallel VersesKJV: Avoiding this, that no man should blame us in this abundance which is administered by us: