Handling Jesus' Money
Ten years ago when we first visited Africa and even before that, we had sent money to Africa. We gave sacrificially, from our hearts. But we were betrayed and lied to. We had money stolen and misapplied, and then we were lied to about how the money was used. That was heartbreaking. Not so much because it hurt us, but because the giving was Jesus. We offered a part of Jesus—it was Jesus’ resource. And like Ananias and Sapphira, there should be a judgment on people who misuse God’s funds.
Now that doesn’t mean that we keep a pagan ledger and balance sheet, or have accounting and voting. That is what some of the denominations do, and men who are dishonest even find ways to cheat in that situation, don’t they?
Yes, they do.
They call it transparent, but if their hearts aren’t pure, they’ll find a way to lie in the paperwork and cheat the system. It happens in the government all the time—in our government and yours. So paperwork doesn’t make something transparent. And accountability can be deceived, unless our hearts are pure.
So over 10 years ago, when we first started sending resources and financial help to the believers in this country in Africa, we insisted that any time money was sent to one person’s account that it was not “their money alone” to make decisions about. The brother must be open and transparent and work together with other good brothers. Just because it went into one person’s account, that did not give that man ownership of that money. That was Jesus’ money, for God’s people, and brothers have to work together on these things.
For over 20 years we’ve always worked together in our lives and we expect the same of you, brothers. We’ve already rebuked the appropriate people, and they are still in our lives and we love them dearly and respect them very much. Just as our children whom we love very much may get a little discipline now and then, that doesn’t mean we love them any less. They simply need to change their ways.
I understand the deceitfulness of riches. That’s what Jesus called it. “Riches” are very charged with power to deceive, and to trick us. But with our family—whom we love—that doesn’t mean rejection. It means we help them learn how to be more responsible because it is so tricky. It’s so deceitful. We’ll always need to help each other with all sorts of topics. This is just one topic. It’s not the end of the world. We’ve not died because of these things. It’s harmed us. It’s wounded us. Like Jacob, we now worship with a limp. But we worship. Ok?
We can solve these things. I think the brothers have been deeply humbled, but are not too discouraged. And I think that’s good. We don’t want to “embitter the children.” We don’t ever want any of our family to be overly discouraged but to be corrected. We want them to change and find new and better ways—more Godly ways—to handle things. That’s a good thing. It’s a little bit embarrassing. But so what? We go on. We worship with a limp. We help each other. We grow, we learn, and we change.
It’s not a “system” of accountability, a machine of transparency, and a democracy—that’s unacceptable. You don’t see that in the New Testament. They “laid the money at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed as anyone had need.” And “there were no needy persons among them.” No overhead. No salaries. No programs. Where’s the “system” in the Bible to help people keep track? Where’s the voting on a pie chart budget in the Bible?
Right! It was men who were trusted by God because of their daily lives, working together to help make decisions. I make NO decisions about money where I live as if I’m the boss of anyone. None. Zero. I make no decisions about money. Hear my heart…I could make decisions and people would even let me perhaps if they weren’t thinking straight or Biblically. It is just so common in the world of religion that few even question it. But I refuse to be a boss or decision maker about money or other things. I contribute JUST as hundreds of others contribute. “When revelation comes to the second, let the first one SIT DOWN!” and “There is wisdom in the multitude of counselors.” “Let every matter be established by the testimony of two or three.” That’s in the Bible again, and again, and again. It is in the Old Testament and the New Testament. “Let every matter be established by the testimony of two or three.”
I don’t have all of the Holy Spirit’s wisdom. I need my brothers to cover my blind spots. I need to be accountable and I offer that accountability as a gift. No one can make me open up my heart. You or anyone can hide and deceive if they want to. But I want to open up for Jesus’ sake, and I know you surely do also. It is where Jesus is. And when ALL of the brothers live that way, then there are no fears. We can work it out. There are no suspicions, no fears, and there is no guilt.
Only an ambitious, greedy, or judgmental man will still have problems at this point. If there is sin in my heart, I will always have problems. I’ll always have a better idea. I’ll always second-guess everybody and everything. If a person says anything, then I’ll say they’re prideful. If they don’t say anything, then I’ll say they’re fearful. If they manage the money to help administer it for God’s people, then I’ll say they’re prejudiced—they’re not fair—they’re greedy. A judgmental man will never be satisfied. A man with hatred in his heart will never be happy or content.
God calls us to trust each other and be loyal to each other; to offer vulnerability and accountability to each other and work together believing that the wisdom of God is in the testimony of two or three, not in me. We believe “where two or three are gathered in His name, there He is,” even when making decisions about finances. We want Jesus’ presence and so we offer our lives as an open book, even if it feels like we’re being cheated. Fine, we decided it together. Fine, so be it, but we decided it together. That’s the heart we’ve got to have.
Has everyone here always functioned the way that I’ve just described? Is what I just described the way it’s always happened or has it been something short of that?
Yes, something short of that.
Okay. So, repentance is a good thing. “Times of refreshing come from repentance.”