2 Corinthians 8:21
Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.
Comp. Proverbs 3:4, which, in the Greek Version reads, "Write them upon the table of thine heart, and thou shalt find favour. Provide things honest in the sight of God and man." This may be treated as a general precept, applicable to all Christian people; or it may be regarded as a reminder of the care which the apostle had taken that, in the administration of money affairs, he should not be misunderstood or blamed. Consider -
I. THE COUNSEL AS APPLIED TO THE APOSTLE HIMSELF. As a fact he had been jealously providing for honest things, and doing everything possible in order to secure the due checking of the gifts and safety of the stored money. Calvin says, "He was not so satisfied with himself as to think it unworthy of his dignity to avoid calumny." Dean Plumptre says, "In this case, had the apostle had only the judgment of God to consider, he could with a pure conscience have taken up the money to Jerusalem by himself. But he had to consider that men were judging him, and might suspect him, and therefore he insisted on having his accounts audited." F.W. Robertson says, "In this is to be observed St. Paul's wisdom, not only as a man of the world, but as a man of God. He knew that he lived in a censorious age, that he was as a city set on a hill, that the world would scan his every act and his every word, and attribute all conceivable and even inconceivable evil to what he did in all honour. It was just because of St. Paul's honour and innocence that he was likely to have omitted this prudence." Archdeacon Farrar indicates the kind of things that were said about the apostle by his Corinthian enemies, which made such an earnest self-vindication absolutely necessary. He represents them as saying that St. Paul was "half demented," and yet there was some method in his madness which showed itself partly in self-importance and partly in avarice, both of which were very injurious to the interests of his followers. What, for instance, could be more guileful and crafty than his entire conduct about this collection which he was so suspiciously eager to set on foot? He had ordered them to get up a subscription in his first letter, had, in answer to their inquiries, directed that it should be gathered, as in the Galatian Churches, by a weekly offertory, and had, since this, sent Titus to stimulate zeal in the matter. They dared to insinuate that all this was only a cunning device to hide his real intentions, and give him a securer grasp of their money." Give in detail the arrangements made by the apostle to secure the due safety and auditing of the collection; and urge that all who have responsible positions in relation to Christian monies should show a similar anxiety to "provide things honest."
II. THE COUNSEL AS APPLIED TO CHRISTIAN GIVING. Those who give must give only that which is honourably their own. The man who is in debt must pay his debts before he gives. The man who has family claims is bound to make adequate provision for them before he gives. To use the familiar proverb, "A man must be just before he is generous." When this rule is neglected, a man's gifts can neither be acceptable to God nor right in the sight of his fellow men. - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.