As grateful as we should be for the generosity and charitable giving of thousands of Americans on what has annually become known as #GivingTuesday, I am even more thankful for the New Testament pattern of faithfulness taught by the apostles and modeled by believers bringing their offerings to the Lord, weekly, as part of their Lord’s Day worship.
Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I directed the churches of Galatia, so do you also. On the first day of every week let each one of you put aside and save, as he may prosper, that no collections be made when I come. And when I arrive, whomever you may approve, I shall send them with letters to carry your gift to Jerusalem; and if it is fitting for me to go also, they will go with me.1 Cor. 16:1-4
In this Scripture passage we find simple instructions from the apostle Paul, as well as a window into the New Testament practice of Sunday giving.
The Purpose of Giving (v. 1)
The apostle begins his exhortation by answering one of the questions posed by the Corinthian believers “concerning the collection for the saints.” This refers to offerings for the poor Christians in Jerusalem. Two examples in the book of Acts stand out. According to Acts 4:34-35, as the gospel spread and churches were established, there were no longer any needy people in the church because all of the believers gave sacrificially to the Lord’s work. They were caring for one another. Also, Acts 12 makes reference to the first relief trip taken by Saul and Barnabas, when they delivered a financial gift to the poor believers living in Judea. The purpose of giving is to support the Lord’s work primarily in and through the local church. When this occurs poor believers within reach of each church can be helped by those who have more (1 Jn 3:17), teachers can be supported by those who are taught (Gal. 6:5-6), and missionaries can be sent and supported (Acts 13; Phil. 4:15-20).
The Plan for Giving (v. 2)
In the second verse the apostle gives four guidelines for giving. First, it should be a weekly habit. Second, each believer should be involved (poor and rich, alike). Third, it should be thought through ahead of time (not merely an emotional response). Fourth, it should be proportionate to one’s ability; i.e. those who have more should give more. This kind of giving is voluntary, out of the overflow of grace, not out of compulsion.
The Propriety of Giving (vv. 3-4)
The apostle also makes it clear that donated moneys should be handled by approved personnel with proven integrity. In Acts 6, when seven men were chosen to handle the distribution of food to poor widows, they were men “of good reputation.” Church leaders must meet the spiritual qualification of not being “lovers of money” (1 Tim. 3:3). Churches must use wisdom in the management of donated funds, and discretion in the approval of those who handle them, “taking precaution that no one should discredit us in our administration of this generous gift” (2 Cor. 8:20).
I’m so thankful to be part of a local church that takes these apostolic admonitions seriously, and I rejoice in the opportunity to give weekly to the Lord’s work.
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