The Weekly Offering
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.…

Let us —


1. Real religion demands the consecration of some part of our worldly substance to God. Gratitude to God constrains us to inquire, "What shall I render unto the Lord for all His benefits?" And God is pleased to encourage in us free-will offerings, and He has in all ages regarded them as a portion of His worship. Before the flood men took the firstlings of their flock and gave them to God. When Noah came out of the ark he took of every clean beast, etc., and gave them to God. Abraham tithed the spoil of battle for the service of God; and Jacob, on the plains of Bethel, vowed a tenth to God. In all the solemnities of Jewish worship the command went forth, "None shall appear before the Lord empty," and there were seasons when the spontaneous liberality of the people overflowed all the bounds of calculation. Further on the prophets dwelt upon the time when the Church of Christ should emulate and even surpass the enthusiasm of her elder sister. "The abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee." "For brass I will bring gold," etc. The Magi brought their costly tribute to the infant Saviour, typifying the great consecration that shall one day ensue of the world's wealth to Him. Mark Christ's approval of the widow's mites, and His rebuke of Judas. In apostolic times Barnabas sells his estates and gives the proceeds for the furtherance of the gospel. Name after name is recorded of both sexes as distinguished for high-minded self-denial in the same good cause. Each Epistle contains some reference to the universal duty.

2. The genius of Christianity loudly calls for enlarged benevolence.

(1) The system of redemption is, from first to last, one prodigious process of gift. God loved the world and gave His only begotten Son. The Son loved us, and gave Himself to death for us all. The self-sacrifice of Christ has taught us more pathetically than words could say, "It is more blessed to give than to receive." The patriarch might bring his first-fruits and his flocks with thankfulness as a recognition of the great Landlord of the world. The Jew in his tithes and offerings professed his attachment to the theocracy. But we have holier motives. The blessings obtained by sharing in salvation are so vast that they constitute the substance of which all antecedent privileges were but the shadow. Shall we then feel less of love, and practise less of self-denial?

(2) Moreover, we have in the teachings and example of Jesus infallible lessons in the art of self-surrender. Wherein is our discipleship manifest if it be not by a preference of the glory of God to all inferior motives of time and sense?

(3) The coming of Christ and the completion of His great work of atonement have greatly extended the responsibilities of His Church, for in Him there is neither Greek nor Jew, etc. With His Church the Saviour has left injunctions to subdue the whole world.

3. God has in all ages greatly honoured the consecration of wealth to His service. "Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the first-fruits of all thine increase. So shall thy barns be filled," etc. Many Christians will testify that their success in life is due to their dedication of their gains to God. We have yet to meet the man who has been impoverished by charity. But there are rewards of a holier kind. The illiberal man robs himself of the joy of being like God: he narrows the circle of his gratifications and limits their sources.

II. EXAMINE THE APOSTOLIC INSTRUCTIONS CONTAINED IN THE TEXT. What force has this precept now? The reply is not difficult. An inspired apostle is the highest human authority in all that relates to Christian duty. Should any upon the basis of this Scripture adopt the custom of weekly offerings, they cannot be acting wrong. Nay, the strong presumption is that they are adopting the only course that is right. The objection that this is the only precept of the kind is not valid, for upon one passage in this same Epistle we establish our mode of commemorating the Saviour's love to us, may we not also upon another passage, that now before us, rest our mode of exhibiting our love to Him? In our text we find —

1. The time appointed for religious gifts. The advantages that attach to this apostolic rule are numerous and important. Here is an appointed time of frequent occurrence, and thereby the duty is kept constantly before our attention. The Lord's day presents the leisure required for deliberate thought and finds us in the happiest state of mind for the performance of the obligation. The cultivation of a spirit of liberality becomes a part of the great work of Christian edification which belongs pre-eminently to the first day in the week. The present desultory mode is inconvenient in the extreme; it jumbles together the perplexities of business and the service of love; it has produced not a little ill-temper, and therefore we commend to you this financial system of the New Testament. Put by each Sabbath what you ought to give. Have somewhere a store which is not your own, but God's; and when applicants come meet them as a steward, who is dispensing what is his master's, not his own. This system is one that commends itself for its great facility. The working man could easily put by his one, two, or three-pence a week, whereas five, ten, or fifteen shillings would be an impossibility to him at the year's end. The tradesman who would not miss his ten shillings or sovereign each Sabbath would be troubled to surrrender at one effort the twenty or fifty pounds which he ought to give annually to the treasury of God.

2. The persons addressed — "Every one of you." All who have received the gospel are bound to do what they can for its diffusion. Smallness of means does not procure exemption. As under the law the poor man's pigeon was equally acceptable to God with the bullocks of his wealthier brother, so also were they equally required. The small contributions of the great number are even more desirable than the magnificent offerings of the wealthy few.

3. The rule and measure of contribution — "As God hath prospered him."(1) It is true that the New Testament does not assign the specific arithmetical amount which we shall dedicate to God. Amongst the Jews each head of a family was bound to give one-tenth to the support of the tribe of Levi, a second tenth for the great festivals of his nation, a third tenth for the poor. Beside these, there were free-will offerings, trespass offerings, and costly journeys to the temple. The aggregate of religious gifts among the Jews could not have been less than one-fifth of each man's income, and more probably involved one-third of it.

(2) Now, while the spirit of the gospel is love, still it does give directions to regulate our conduct in relation to contributions. If love does not stoop to arithmetical calculation, it is only because this grace is profuse beyond all calculation.

(3) The rule of the text requires that there should be a continual relation between our temporal circumstances and our religious benefactions. A Christian's wealth is not to increase and his subscriptions remain stationary. The more the Almighty prospers a man, the more He expects him to bestow (Deuteronomy 16:17).

(W. G. Lewis.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye.

WEB: Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I commanded the assemblies of Galatia, you do likewise.

The Theology of Money
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