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2 Corinthians 8:20-23 • Tested & Found Diligent

"taking precaution so that no one will discredit us in our administration of this generous gift; for we have regard for what is honorable, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men. We have sent with them our brother, whom we have often tested and found diligent in many things, but now even more diligent because of his great confidence in you. As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker among you; as for our brethren, they are messengers of the churches, a glory to Christ."
    —2 Corinthians 8:20-23 (NASB)

Paul is doing something among the churches that has been repeatedly done throughout the history of the church to this very day: fundraising. In this case, he's collecting on behalf of members of the church in particular hardship in Israel where a famine is taking place. Nowhere do we have an example of Paul fundraising for himself, for his ministry, for a building, or for anything except to address other people's needs. That's quite a contrast to much of the historical and present fundraising that's taken place to date.

At this present time, six so-called Christian ministries are under investigation by the United States Senate for possible financial misconduct: Randy and Paula White, Joyce Meyer, Creflo Dollar, Eddie Long, Kenneth Copeland, and Benny Hin. (It's a sad but notable adjunct that Hinn, Copeland, and Dollar also sit on the Board of Regents for Oral Roberts University where its President recently resigned after members of the staff brought a lawsuit against the university alleging financial misconduct.) Those of us who have been sounding the alarm for years against these false teachers welcome such attention so that the innocent or duped will cease sending them their money; but we're also deeply troubled because we know there will be fallout for all the legitimate ministries out there because of this.

But here's the greater application of Paul's example for us in this thing: accountability. How was Paul so sure that Titus and company were men of Christ-like integrity who could be trusted to do the right thing with the resources entrusted them? Because "we have often tested and found [them] diligent in many things". Shame on all of us who sent even a single dollar to any of the people above without having tested their message and witness against the Word of God. Anyone who has done so has not only ceased interaction with them but begun to warn others against them. This isn't some good ol' sage advice from me to you, but is actually a biblical command to each and every one of us…

"Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world."
    —1 John 4:1 (NASB)

If you're thinking of contributing to ANY person or ministry you're not so intimately acquainted with that you can positively say you've tested and passed them according to biblical standards, a good starting point is Wall Watchers [1], an independent organization which provides insight into organizations' financial stewardship. In particular, visit their Ministry Watch [2] web site for a quick list of donor alerts and the ability to search the background of any organization. The only way we can prevent the kind of fallout that is to come from this present Senate investigation is to be good stewards in the first place who "do not believe every spirit, but test…to see whether they are from God" BEFORE sending in a single cent.