we take this course so that no one should blame us about this generous gift that is being administered by us, for we aim at what is honorable not only in the Lord’s sight but also in the sight of man. [2 corinthians 8:20-21]
knowing that we are prone to wander is so important — when we think we can go it alone without community, to lead, to run a ministry, to count the money, to meet alone with someone “to do ministry” of the opposite sex, etc., we are putting ourselves in positions with no accountability. paul knew that it was important to not just avoid sin, but also to avoid the appearance of sin. this is why in his qualifications for elders in i timothy 3, he states that:
the saying is trustworthy: if anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. therefore an overseer must be above reproach, [1 timothy 3:1-2a]
and then he goes on to list several other qualifications, but the first one – being above reproach is really important – being above reproach means the overseer candidate is above criticism, is not suspect of underhanded dealing – in the church, in his marriage, in his business or anywhere else in his life.
my wife and i necessarily talk a lot about hedges and protections for our marriage. we certainly want to avoid, confess, and repent of sin when it occurs, but we also want to avoid situations and put protections around situations where we might be tempted to sin. finally, we want to avoid the appearance of sin – we don’t do this so that we look good and boast in ourselves – ”aiming to be honorable in the sight of the lord and also in the sight of man.” we need to be pointed to God’s goodness and glory. when people ask how we protect our marriage, it is all a boast in our weakness and God’s strength.
paul’s insistence to do life and ministry with these brothers was rooted in his ministry to do the right thing (brothers who would call him out if he stumbled) and appear to do the right thing (multiple eyes counting the money, many hands administering the gift) was important. we should take notice, and seek out brothers and sisters in Christ to pour into our lives – and we into them -calling them to repentance and to accountability.
God’s presence can be experienced in these types of gospel relationships. i know that i long for relationships where Jesus and accountability to the ministry of the gospel take center stage. last wednesday, john told us that “people are starving to have someone go with them.” we should strive to “go with” each other in ministry. let us be bold. let us not shrink back. let us ask one another, ”will you help me in being strategic in my neighborhood and in my ministry?” most of us never ask and most of us are never asked these types of questions for fear of failure – but if we are people who love Christ we will be obedient to his call. let us go together into our neighborhoods, our lot families, our workplaces, arm in arm, with brothers and sisters in Christ, accountable to each other, fighting the good fight of the faith together.
~ conor eastman