1 Corinthians 16:1-2 says, “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders for the churches in Galatia, so you must do also; On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come.” Later, Paul wrote, “I robbed other churches, taking wages from them to minister to you” (2 Corinthians 11:8). From these two verses, we have the authority and the commandment to give upon each first day of each week. We also learn that each church had a collective fund (treasury) for the purpose of carrying out the work God has given the church to accomplish. This is evident in the fact that Paul took wages from “churches” to preach the Gospel.
However, there is much more said about this idea of giving in the new testament. I want us to notice three adjectives found in the New testament which describe the way in which each Christian should give.
Paul wrote, “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart…” (2 Corinthians 9:7). Our giving should not be on accident; it should be on purpose! Some are guilty of waiting till the plate comes around to dig in their purse or wallet and grab a bill (usually a small one). This does not describe the way in whch we should give. Christians should be good stewards of their money. Every young couple I have ever done marriage or pre-marriage counseling with have been encouraged by me to take charge of their money and run their household on a budget. At the top of the list on the budget should not be the car, house, utilities, etc.. It should be the amount allotted to give to the Lord. Too often, because of their lack of purpose, christians will give God what’s left over after all the bills are paid and all of the extras are purchased. Even worse, some will give God a portion of the leftovers!!! Does this type of giving meet the necessities of purposeful giving?
Paul wrote, “He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully” (2 Corinthians 9:6). Examine your giving. Would you consider your giving bountiful? This will never happen, but suppose one Sunday morning an elder stood before the church and announced your weekly income. He then announced how much you give to the Lord each week. Would you be ashamed? Sometimes, a statement is made, either in a prayer or a short talk at the table, that the Lord gives us all we have and we need to give back a small portion at this time. This statement should NEVER be made! There’s not one word in God’s word about giving back a “small” portion. The adjective used in the Bible is “bountifully!” If we realize how much the Lord loved the church, (He gave His life for it Acts 20:28; Ephesians 5:22,23) then we should realize how important this institution is. If the Lord is willing to lay down His life for the church, how hard should it be for us, in our complete devotion to Him and His church, to give a very liberal amount to support it’s work? Paul used the example of Christ’s sacrifice to prompt the Corinthians to be liberal in their giving (2 Corinthians 8:9).
Suppose you developed a terminal illness. Your doctor said there was nothing he could do to heal you, but he can give you some medicine which would relieve the pain and may extend your life a small amount. He then informed you the medicine would cost you $400.00 a month. You agreed to pay the amount. By chance, you then crossed paths with another doctor who said he can actually cure your illness. You agree to the treatment and you are cured. You ask the doctor how much you owe him, and he tells you there’s no set amount, and informs you that you could just put whatever you deemed fair in the bucket he had laid out for that purpose. Do you think he would be offended if you put in a five dollar bill? Listen, Jesus laid down His life so you could be cured from the worst illness of all- spiritual sickness. What do we do in return for Him? No, Christ’s Gospel doesn’t give a set amount as to how much we should give. But, remember what He gave for you. Do you offend Him each time you put your offering in the plate?
It should be noted that when God did set an amount, it was a generous amount. Under the Mosaical law, there was the priestly tithe, the withholding of which was considered dishonest by God (Lev. 27:30-33; Num. 18:21-24; Mal. 3:8). Then there was the festival tithe (Deut. 14:22-27; 16:16) and the poor tithe (Deut. 14:28,29). In addition to this, the corners of fields were to be left for the profit of the poor to glean for food. When adding up all this tithing, it can be determined that all pious Jews gave approximately 30 percent of their income to the Lord. THIRTY PERCENT!!! It’s true we no longer live under the Mosaical law, but the Gospel does tell us it is there for our learning and exhortation. And that we should learn from the examples of men living under that age (Romans 15:4; 1 Cor 10:11). What have we learned from their example of giving? To give a “small portion,” or to be liberal?
Again, Paul wrote, “For God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7). He places this in contrast to giving “grudgingly or of necessity.” Do you give every first day simply because you are commanded to? That’s of necessity! Although it’s good to fulfill the commands of God, we should be more than happy to obey them. If one is only giving because he is commanded to, you can be sure he doesn’t give much. Understanding that through our giving the Gospel is preached to a lost community, and saints are edified, we should feel gloriously blessed when we give. We should be thankful we can be a part of the greatest cause on earth! How’s your giving?