1 Corinthians 16:1-4
Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do you.…
I. THE NECESSITY OF GIVING.
1. For maintenance of public worship in our own community. Churches should aim at self support. Assuredly there should be no unwillingness to give where we ourselves reap the advantage. And often the return, being spiritual, infinitely exceeds all that we part with.
2. For various works which have for their object the dissemination of the truth or the relief of the needy. Gospel at home is good, but we must see that the gospel is sent abroad. There are many societies aiming to reach the heathen in this land and in other lands; ready support should be rendered. "Go ye into all the world," etc. (Matthew 28:19). Relief of the destitute is a bounden duty of the Christian. Here we have a beautiful example. The apostle is no doubt referring to the distressed believers in Jerusalem and Judaea (Romans 15:26). The largely Gentile Church is incited to aid the largely Jewish. This will form a new bond, and do the double work of relieving suffering and breaking down prejudice. Our charity should know no limits but the limits of need and ability.
3. For givers individually. Christians who do not give do not grow. The cultivation of charity is the cultivation, not of one grace, but of many. It is usual to plead the needs of others; our personal need of giving is a strong argument. Parting with some ballast prospers our voyage, and, instead of imperilling our safety, increases it. Right giving is great gaining. We cannot be like Christ unless we give. He "gave himself for us."
4. For the Church. That Church which is not a giving Church will not be a prospering Church. A spirit of charity in a religious community exercises a gracious influence upon everything that that community attempts, and is ever prompting fresh efforts. Church charity should be wide. There is such a thing as Church selfishness. A Church may bestow too much thought upon itself. High shutting in walls are not good for gardens.
5. For the glory of God. Giving manifests the power of the Christian faith. It is a very powerful testimony in the eyes of the world. The world is apt to scoff at profession, even at worship; but this practical outcome often startles, and has sometimes staggered, the world. It is a great instrument of conversion. Moreover, every gift should be a direct offering to God. We must see in the hand of the needy the treasury of the Lord. The Master often sits over against that treasury.
II. THE APOSTOLIC SUGGESTIONS.
1. Setting apart each week. This is very convenient for many. It also ensures frequent and regular giving. Further, and what is of far more importance than is generally thought, it facilitates our knowing how much we give. Those who do not know how much they give think they give three times as much as they really do. Perhaps the most certain way to increase our giving would be to keep a strict account of how little we give! Setting apart each week would provide us with a store from which we could draw as necessity arose. We are ready for the collection in the sanctuary when we have first made the collection in the home.
2. On the first day of the week. How appropriate a time! Associated with so many hallowed memories, and pre-eminently with the completion by his resurrection of Christ's great gift to us. His charity should be the inspirer of ours. A beautiful act for a holy day. How could we refuse to give then, or how could we give grudgingly?
3. The amount of gift to be determined by the measure of prosperity. All gifts are not expected to be of the same value. "She hath done what she could" was the Master's gracious expression of approval. Note: Our prosperity is of God. He gives that we may give. If we take all to ourselves, we are robbers, not Christians. And in so far as we do not give what we know he would have us to, we are defrauders of God. He trusts us with so much: let us see that we do not abuse the trust. Stewards are we, not proprietors. Christ's commendation of the widow's two mites is abused by some well to do folks; they always aim to give that amount. Alas! when the chill of adversity comes to many men it kills at once all offerings to the Lord - retrenchment "begins at the house of God" - and when prosperity comes they give but the old sum, which in the altered circumstances is a beggarly and disgraceful offering.
4. All to give. All have received. The widow gave "all her living? None are too poor to give something. Every Christian should be a giving Christian; it is a part of his Christianity. The gift of a Church is specially valuable when it is a gift of all its members. And right giving is such a joy, that when the most destitute part with something for Christ's sake they do not lose now, but gain. When we give we get.
5. Giving is to be voluntary. It is to be giving. The apostle does not propose to make an assessment. The matter is left between the individual and his God. Giving is valuable only as it springs from the heart. Where compulsion (and there are many sorts) begins, there charity ends. The beauty of Christ's offering was that it was voluntary. No man took his life from him; he laid it down of himself.
III. GIFTS SHOULD BE CAREFULLY ADMINISTERED. Charity is greatly checked if suspicion arises that gifts do not reach their intended destination. The apostle uses great care here. He arranges that those who give should elect custodians of their gifts, who might bear the offering to Judaea. The loose way in which some Churches manage their finances tends to lessen liberality. A Church should keep its accounts more carefully than a bank! The administration of a Church's gifts is no mean work. The apostle offers to take part in it, if this shall seem well. Not alone - lest some should take opportunity to slander: ministers cannot be too careful in money matters. But with others he is willing even to journey to Jerusalem. - H.
Parallel VersesKJV: Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye.