1 Corinthians 16:1, 2
Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do you.…
It is interesting to note that one of the first and most natural expressions of the Christian spirit was a consideration of the needs of the poorer members of the Church, and a readiness to share what good things were possessed with them. Of this spirit Barnabas is presented to us as offering the highest example (Acts 4:36). His thought and feeling in this matter had very probably influenced his companion St. Paul. We can well understand that the Jewish Christians, dwelling in the holy city, would be placed under great disabilities. Many of them were very poor; their opinions would prevent their obtaining the ordinary charities; perhaps they found it even difficult to secure remunerative labour; and, when times of famine and distress came, they would be the first to suffer. When Christianity was proclaimed freely to the Gentiles, there was this grave danger to face; the separation between Jew and Gentile might be kept up within Christianity, and the conception of one Church - one flock under one Shepherd - might fail to be realized. To correct this tendency, St. Paul sought to keep up the sympathy of the newer Gentile with the older Jewish Church, and guided the expression of such sympathy, letting it take the form of collections and money gifts. In the passage now before us the principles upon which Christian giving should be regulated are indicated. They concern -
I. THE CLAIM OF ALL TO A SHARE IN CHRISTIAN GIFTS. Nothing that a man possesses is his own. Money, talents, position, influence, - all are Divine gifts and trusts; none are sent for the man's sake alone who receives them. He is only made an agent for ministering God's good gifts to others. The whole Church has its claim to share in whatever good things any of its members possesses. It should be impossible to find, among Christians, an unrelieved sufferer, or a helpless, poverty stricken beggar. We must distinguish between charity and the meeting of the family claims of our brethren in the Lord. It is not charity, it is duty, it is faithfulness, that leads us to share what is entrusted to us with those who share m the same salvation, and who have the same "good hope through grace." We do not speak of charity among brothers and sisters of the same family, and the right view of Christian giving is taken only when the Christian Church is regarded as a family.
II. THE NEED FOR PREPARATION BY PREVIOUS STORING. The claims upon us only come at times, but they do come at times in forms quite beyond our meeting, if we have made no preparations. And there is the further danger that when, through circumstances of distress, our feelings are unusually moved, we act from impulse, not from principle. So St. Paul urges that the separation of shares for the needy brethren be made regularly, as a matter of duty; that a proportion of all our acquisitions be regularly set aside and stored up for due occasions, and that so we keep our brethren and their needs constantly in mind.
III. THE TIME MOST SUITABLE FOR SUCH STORING. "First day of the week." The Lord's day. The memorial day of the Lord's resurrection; which, we cannot doubt, had become the Christian day for worship. When minds were directed more especially to Christian privileges and duties, the separations and storings would be more liberally done, and would be made acts of worship. It seems probable that the amounts thus regularly laid by were not stored privately, but made offerings at public worship, and stored by the treasurers.
IV. THE RULE THAT REGULATES THE AMOUNT STORED. Many have argued for a tenth, but it was not in St. Paul's way to fix any limitations upon the free expression of Christian feeling. He does not mean to suggest any proportion by his law, "As God hath prospered him." Really he means, "Let your separation for others be according to your sense of God's goodness to you." And this he suggests because, while the due provision for the poor is of grave importance, it is even more important that our storing and giving should be a means of grace to ourselves, an agency of spiritual culture. Practically it is found that brotherly and generous regard for our needy fellow Christians bears most directly on the efficiency of our own graces and the culture of the true Christian spirit. "The liberal soul is made fat." - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye.