1 Corinthians 16:1-5
Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do you.…
If these Corinthians shared the thoughts and emotions of St. Paul on love, on the uses of gifts, and on the resurrection, they were well prepared to have practical duties urged on their immediate attention. At that time "the collection for the saints" was a very important matter. These saints were poor disciples in Jerusalem, who needed foreign help, the Church in that city being unable, because of impoverishment, to render them adequate assistance. Furthermore, it was important as a means of spiritual discipline. Giving to others, and especially to the household of faith, is an acknowledgment of God in Christ, a testimony to brotherhood, and an active cooperation with providence, the last being a duty we are particularly liable to forget. The religion of providence, the sense of Christ in providence, and the sentiments thereby inspired, is a weak influence in many professing Christians, and it is certainly very desirable that we should have the mind of the Spirit on this subject. Apart from these reasons for "the collection for the saints," the evidential value of the act appears in this, that in about a quarter of a century a Christian community had grown up in the Roman empire, had spread over much of its territory, and had the means and the heart to aid poorer brethren. Nor must we fail to notice that Jerusalem was an object of much interest to Galatia and Corinth. The days of adversity were gathering upon her, but she was Jerusalem, and to no one more of a Jerusalem than to St. Paul. His zeal in her behalf won upon the sympathies of the Gentiles, and they were ready to join him in this work of the Lord. Observe, then, that he enters into no argument to prove the obligation of charity. This is presupposed to exist. The sentiment, too, is alive, the impulse is awake and operative. He makes no doubt of their readiness to cooperate with him. What he wishes to do is to organize the sentiment and impulse. Habits are the safeguards of good inclinations, habits are the most conservative of forces, and habits, after having been made by us, get the mastery and make us. Habits are as necessary for Churches as for individuals, and, therefore, he will have these Corinthians to do this work methodically. "As I have given order to the Churches of Galatia, even so do ye." Notice the apostolic method. It required a fixed time - "the first day of the week," the Lord's day. Would not the day cultivate and hallow the feeling? Are the associations of a given time for a given task unworthy of consideration? The heavens and the earth are obedient to periodicity, the human body is an organism of periodicity, the sabbath is an institution of periodicity, and benevolence cannot be a habit in the best import of the term unless it have stated periods of activity. Therefore, "the first day of the week." It was to be done by "every one." It was to be done individually and privately - "lay by him in store." And, again, it was to be performed with reference to accumulation, set apart, added to, kept in store. Finally, there was to be an examination of their daily business; intelligence was to be exercised, prudence and piety were to go hand in hand, and this was to be done in a religious spirit - "as God hath prospered him." Now, this looks as if St. Paul had given much thought to this matter. It was charity, not as mere charity, nor as a spasmodic impulse, nor as a thing of imposing occasions, but charity organized and habitual, regular as the sabbath, incorporated into the sanctity of the day, a product of the week's review, a commemoration of God's goodness in prospering their business; it was this sort of charity he directed them to practice. They practised many virtues in this one virtue. Too much of benevolent giving involves nothing beyond our sympathies and the wants of others. It is an education of the hand, the purse, the soul. But what of the spirit's higher culture? What of the calling into play the spiritual nature that was going forward to robe itself in a spiritual habiliment at the resurrection? The essence of this lay in the thought of God as prospering the man for the sake of others as well as for his own sake. Business, then, was not simply personal, it was relative also, and charity, no less than utility, entered into it as a component. What, now, is St. Paul's idea of making money? It is acquiring the means of your own support and of contributing to the relief of those in want. It is making wisdom and openness of heart and fraternity of sentiment, while making money. It is making the religion of brotherhood while making money. If the Corinthians would adhere to this plan, there would be no need of collections when he came, as the work would have been done already. Was not this one way of being steady, unmoved, "always abounding in the work of the Lord," and would it not prove by its self action that it was not "in vain in the Lord?" And was it not one way, and a great way, of demonstrating that there was a business in religion as well as a religion in business? Throughout his statement of the matter, you see the apostle's large mindedness. The cheerful giver is portrayed, the man who naturalizes and domesticates charity; nothing is said of tithes and tithing; it is Christianity and Gentile Christianity alone that is in view, and, instead of Jerusalem being a centre of power or metropolitan sovereignty, Corinth and Galatia are sources or bead-springs of blessing to her. What a stride forward this, in the evangelization of the world! We may know that the end draweth nigh, when the money of the world - the stronghold of sin and Satan - is recovered for Christ. St. Paul bad faith in the sentiment of these Corinthians. Disorderly as were some of their practices, shameful indeed, loose as was their Church discipline, erroneous certain of their tenets, yet, despite of all, they had the root of the matter in the willing mind of love, so that when be visited them, he would have nothing more to do than to accredit their messengers and commend them to the Church in Jerusalem. Come to them he would; and, if the collection were liberal, he might deem it advisable to accompany their messengers to Jerusalem. And what a spectacle it suggests at this distance to us, who can recall the old-time enmity between Jew and Gentile, and have the offset in a scene as beautiful as that presented by a delegation from Corinth, bearing its gifts to a suffering and down-trodden people! - L.
Parallel VersesKJV: Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye.