Thursday, September 19, 2013

Concerning the Collection

Today is the fourth day in our 37th week, reading the Bible through in a year.  Our scriptures today are:  Isaiah 56-59; 1 Corinthians 16; Psalm 70

In 1 Corinthians 16:1-4, Paul writes about the donations he was collecting from the Gentile churches, for the purpose of aiding Jewish Christians who were in need in Israel.  He writes:

Now concerning the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do.  On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come.  And when I arrive, I will send those whom you accredit by letter to carry your gift to Jerusalem.  If it seems advisable that I should go also, they will accompany me.

There are a few principles of giving that I'd like to highlight here:

Generosity.  This collection wasn't to be used in their own congregations.  It was for the benefit of other believers--people whom the Corinthians had not yet, and most were not likely to meet.

Priority.  The collection was taken up on the first day of the week, not the last.  In that day, people were paid daily for their labor.  Taking up a collection on the first day of the week meant that the Christians in Corinth were giving in anticipation of the money they would earn as he may prosper, and not in response to money that they had earned already.

Accountability.  Paul wouldn't dream of asking the Corinthians and Galatians to hand him cash and simply trust him with it.  He asked them to put more than one trusted person from the church in charge of the money and deliver it to Jerusalem.  He offered to accompany that money and those messengers as well--but only if they think that is advisable.  

When we give our tithes and offerings in church, we need to keep those same principles in mind.  We need to give generously, supporting the work of the local church and also providing for the needs of others--even those whom we will never meet in this lifetime.  We need to make giving a priority in our lives.  Instead of giving what's left over, give in anticipation of the blessing God is going to sent your way.  When we give, we need to insist on accountability from the people who are handling that money.  We need to give wisely, to those ministries that are responsible with what they're given.

Like the Galatians and Corinthians, I hope that you'll give regularly, generously, and often to the ministries that spread God's word and give relief to those in need.  When you give, you'll be blessed.  When you give, you become a blessing to others.

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