By Mark Mayberry
In every age men have been taught to give or sacrifice unto God. The Lord evaluates our giving, and he will not accept just any offering. “Laying by in store,” or giving, is a positive duty of the Christian. What does God see regarding our actions? A study of 1 Corinthians 16:1-2 should stimulate our thinking and move us to obedience.
Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come (1 Cor. 16:1-2).
When? “Upon The First Day of the Week”
The first day of the week is a day of great significance in the New Testament. On that day Jesus rose from the dead, the church was established, the Holy Spirit was given, and the first gospel sermon was preached. This was the day of assembly and worship for first century Christians (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:1-2; Heb. 10:25-26). Although Paul does not use the expression, “the Lord’s day,” as John did (Rev. 1:10), the very practices which he commanded are what led John to speak of Sunday in those terms.
Our giving should be periodic and habitual, regular and systematic. Giving is to be just as regular as observing the Lord’s supper. Here we might note the -inconsistency of most denominations. They will pass the collection plate at every service, any day of the week, but observe the Lord’s supper only on rare occasions. Why the difference? Do they feel that one is more important than the other?
Who? “Let Each One of You”
Paul emphasized the personal responsibility of every member to give of his means to the Lord. Each disciple must give as he or she has been prospered.
The story is told of a little boy with a nickel in his hand, who was sitting in church beside a well dressed, dignified lady. He watched the contribution plate being passed down the pews, and became alarmed as it got nearer, because the lady next to him made no effort to get any money out of her purse to give into the treasury. Just as the plate got to her, the boy handed her his coin and said, “Here, Ma’am, put in my nickel, and I’ll crawl under the bench.” This child had been taught about his individual responsibility of giving to the Lord.
What? “Lay By Him in Store”
Our giving should be with purpose and planning. It is thoughtless to spend first for ourselves, and then offer God the few dollars that we have left over (Matt. 6:33). Let’s make sure we include God when we plan the monthly budget. We a have to meet our material obligations, but let’s not crowd God out or give him leftovers.
But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver (2 Cor. 9:6-7).
The word “grudgingly” carries the idea of reluctance and resentment. We shouldn’t be miserly in our attitude toward God. We should not grumble about our obligation to give. Neither should it be done out of a sense of compulsion. Sometimes men will give, not because they want to, but because they have to. They view this act of worship as a necessary evil. What a woeful attitude for Christians to have!
How Much? “As He May Prosper”
The tithe (10%) was given under the Patriarchal and Jewish dispensations (Gen. 14:17-20; 28:22; Lev. 27:30-32). However, the Law of Moses has been done away with (Heb. 10:9), and tithing is not commanded in the Christian dispensation. Instead, Christian giving is to be proportionate. We are under an honor system whereby we give as we have been prospered. The amount we give should be in proportion to the amount we have received. The New Testament praises those who give generously (Mk. 12:41-44; Acts 4:34, 35; 2 Cor. 8:1-5; 9:6).
The people of Israel robbed God in not giving as they were required. We should avoid falling into the same trap. How can we rob God? By not giving liberally, or by giving God the leftovers. Give, not from the top of your purse, but from the bottom of your heart.
Every good and perfect gift cometh down from our Heavenly Father. Should we not return unto him a portion of those blessings so that his work can be accomplished? Freely you have received, freely give!
Why? “That There Be No Gatherings When I Come”
This passage deals specifically with Paul’s efforts to help the poor among the saints in Jerusalem (2 Cor. 9:8,9; Rom. 15:25-27; Acts 24:17). Other Christians were suffering and the Corinthian brethren had an obligation to help. There was no time to waste. Paul would soon be coming, and they needed to be ready.
“Sometimes it is argued that this plan for raising money is only for benevolence in the church. It remains, however, that divine wisdom led Paul to give this plan to Corinth for raising money and good reasoning will convince one that if it, will work in raising money for one righteous cause, it will work for another and for all” (Roy Cogdill, New Testament Church, pp. 105-106).
The work of the church is on-going. There is work that always needs to be done, and we never know when special situations may arise. Regular giving is necessary so that the church might be ready to fulfill her God-given mission. We should give so that there will be no deficit, no lack, so that no work would be left undone.
In conclusion, let’s realize that God is interested in our motives (2 Cor. 8:8), manner (2 Cor. 9:1) and measure of giving (Rom. 12:8). We are God’s stewards (1 Cor. 4:1,2; 1 Pet. 4: 10). We are his by right of creation (Gen. 1:26), by right of redemption (Eph. 1:7), and by right of providential care (Matt. 6:26-30). A steward watches over and cares for the things of another. He will have to give account to his master for how he fulfilled his duty. We are God’s stewards, because in the final analysis, everything belongs to him (1 Cor. 10:26). We shall one day give account for the way we use God’s blessings (Lk. 12:18-20; 1 Tim. 6:7). Are you laying up for yourself treasures in heaven? Are you putting Christ first in your life?
Guardian of Truth XXXIII: 5, pp. 131-132
March 2, 1989