Each year in my Campus Life club we would have a meeting honoring the football players and cheerleaders - and we had a crowdbreaker that was always good for laughs. We got three cheerleaders up in front and gave them a bag filled with a complete football uniform, pads and all - minus a couple of items that would have been inappropriate. Then, with a player coaching them verbally, they raced to see which one could get all their uniform on first. You don't realize how much gear a football player has to put on until you try to figure out where all those pads go!
Knee pads, shoulder pads, hip pads - it's a lot to figure out. But when you're about to be colliding with other bodies at high speed, you need to protect yourself! So the smart player makes sure he's protected in the spots where he's most vulnerable.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You about "No One To Welcome."
Physically, we know we should protect vulnerable spots - that's a good idea morally and spiritually. The Apostle Paul seemed to realize the spot where many of us are the most vulnerable spiritually - the area where we may be most subject to criticism, to temptation, to compromise - an area where temptation hits hard. Paul knew you had to do some serious things to protect yourself in that area. The vulnerable spot - money.
Paul had been raising funds for a special relief offering for the impoverished saints in Jerusalem. Now it was time to pull all those funds together and deliver them. Which, of course, meant handling a lot of money, given by God's people. Listen to how determined he was to protect himself from any injury to his character or his credibility. He says in our word for today from the Word of God in 2 Corinthians 8:20, "We want to avoid any criticism of the way we administer this liberal gift." Good idea - few things bring more discredit to the name of Christ than a Christian who is messing with money that isn't his - or even handles it in such a way that he could be accused of messing with it.
"For we are taking pains to do what is right." Pains - going out of our way to guard our integrity. Doing whatever it takes to do it right. That has to be the standard for every follower of Jesus Christ when it comes to the handling of money. "Taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of men." Isn't right before God enough? Not when it comes to money. We are called to do what is right before the government, before God's people, before those would love to have an excuse to discredit Christians and the Savior they serve.
So, the standard is simple - when you are handling money, always take the high road. Don't see how close to the edge of integrity you can play - see how far you can stay from the edge - always erring on the side of taking too many precautions. Money seems to have spiritual power - and Satan knows it. He has used the abuse of it - or just naive carelessness with it - to majorly harm to the name of Christ and the trust of God's people.
So take a page from a spiritual champion, Paul - take whatever precautions you have to take to cover this vulnerable area called money. Don't ever allow yourself to be in a position where you could possibly be tempted to do something unethical - or where you could possibly be accused of doing anything unethical.
Our opponent wants to hit us hard in our weak spot to take us out of the game. But we can stop him - by covering ourselves with heavy protection in anything that involves money - if we can stop hits in that vulnerable spot, we can finish the game victorious.