Following the Rules; January 30, 2022

2 Corinthians 8:21 For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of men.

Life always has its tensions. Though we are not of the world, we are indeed in the world, and our behavior has an impact on how those around us see the Lord we profess. There are some groups and some individuals who totally ignore social and even legal norms. Frankly, I don’t think they draw many people to faith in Christ! Taxes may be complicated and even unjust, but failure to pay them gets us in trouble, period. Financial accountability is a vital test of any ministry. We are of course accountable to God first and foremost, but as long as we are in this world we have to abide by its rules as well. At the same time, doing things just because they are legal doesn’t necessarily mean they are right before God. This principle has been true as long as there have been human governments, and Paul was certainly no exception. As a Roman citizen as well as a Jew, he knew what it was to “toe the line,” as well as which lines to toe. He is a good model for us in many areas, and we do well to pay attention.

I have never been a fan of regulations, at times perhaps excessively so. I have had to learn to submit my reactions to God and listen to Him carefully, because sometimes regulations are indeed unjust or even illegal. The current uproar over mandates is a good case in point. Some US officials have been issuing edicts with no regard for the actual legal framework, leading to the current mess. I’m very grateful that the Japanese government hasn’t issued any actual mandates for those living in the country, though regulations for entering the country have been strict and at times capricious. That gives me pause as I consider the possibility of an emergency trip to the US, not knowing what hoops I’ll have to jump through to get back into Japan, particularly since I have no intention of accepting the mRNA shot. In the area of financial accountability, I’m in an awkward place because we have lost so many church treasurers that I’m now doing it myself, which is not ideal any way you look at it. We are a legally recognized church, but the reporting requirements seem to change from year to year, and I’m frankly not sure what they are at this point. The stresses of the job of church treasurer have literally driven at least five people more or less completely away from the church, which is why I’ve been doing it rather than sticking it on one of the remaining members. A paid accountant would seem to be an option, except for our very limited funds and the additional layer of complexity. God has been bringing in workers recently, so I need to pray for a willing accountant!

Father, thank You for Your answers to everything. Help us recognize Your answer to the situation about a church treasurer, and help us indeed do what is right in Your eyes in every situation, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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