Perspectives on Christian Giving
Topic: Giving Verse: 1 Corinthians 16:1–16:4
“Perspectives on Christian Giving”
1 Corinthians 16:1-4
Theme: A believer gives financially for the glory of Christ through a local church.
I. THE DESIGN FOR GIVING – 16:1
A. The Alleviation of Hardship
1. The transition from the theological to the practical is extremely abrupt – clearly indicating a transition of focus.
2. Of course, every time the Lord gives us a glimpse of the great glory that awaits us through the resurrection, His motive is always to induce a greater sense of faithfulness in our daily living.
3. He immediately addresses the issue of giving in the local church – “Now concerning the collection for the saints …”
4. Clearly, Paul indicates that the purpose of giving was “for the saints” – those who were knowing the distress caused by the poverty of the believers in Jerusalem.
a) Jerusalem was perhaps where the persecution and sacrifices of the believers were most blatant – cp. Acts 8:1-3
b) In addition, there had been a famine from which believers in Jerusalem, because of their ostracism from the Jewish community, had not recovered – cp. Acts 11:28
5. Hence, the primary purpose of giving in the local church is for the spiritual welfare as well as physical need of the members of the Body of Christ – both in the local assembly as well as in other churches – so that the Gospel might go forth, in part verified by the love and compassion demonstrated within the church Body.
B. The Attestation of Unity
1. This brings yet another point to this discussion – that of the desire by Paul for the collection being received to express the spiritual unity of the Church.
2. Because the Gospel was provided through the Jews first, the Gentiles who were also the recipients of the Gospel were in certain respects indebted to the Jewish brethren.
3. Concerning the collection of monies for the welfare of the Jewish brethren in Jerusalem, Paul stated that the Gentile believers were glad to participate in this collection because “they are indebted to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in their spiritual things, they are indebted to minister to them also in material things” – cp. Romans 15:27
4. Thus, God sees the giving of His people’s financial resources as a means by which the hearts of believers come together and are united in the effort to minister to one another.
II. THE DETAILS OF GIVING – 16:2
A. The Timing of Our Giving
1. This passage provides us some practical guidelines for our giving.
2. Some people feel that they ought to give “when the Spirit moves” or even when they’ve had some kind of windfall – a tip, as it were, thrown to God in response to excellent “service.”
3. However, notice here that we are to be giving to the work of the Lord “on the first day of the week.”
a) The timing of our giving is clearly when we come together for the purpose of worshipping our risen Savior – “the first day of the week” which is Sunday.
b) Giving should therefore be a regular part of the weekly worship of a believer.
c) One of the benefits of such a practice is that it forces us each to consider our sensitivities to the regular spiritual responsibilities to be faithful stewards of what god has given to us.
4. Notice that no person is exempt – from the rich to the poor, “each one of you is to put aside …” – a clear indication that this is the weekly responsibility of every saint – cp. 1 Peter 2:5.
B. The Technique of Our Giving
1. We’ve already noted that the giving is to be regular – weekly and that every believer is to participate.
2. Now we see that this giving is to be deliberate and entrusted into the safe-keeping of the church – “each one of you is to put aside and save”
a) Some have felt that this is a reference to the practice of putting a portion of your resources away personally so that you will have something to share when the time comes.
b) However, the concept of “saving” here is a reference to the “storehouses” usually connected with the Temples of the day – both Jewish and pagan.
c) Another indication that giving to the church to safe-guard and dispense is that Paul indicates that they ought to be receiving these offerings on a regular weekly basis as a church – “so that no collection be made when I come.”
3. Now we come to the section that everyone wants to consider from the outset – “How much am I supposed to be giving?”
4. The phrase in out text explains the answer to this question: “… as he may prosper”
a) Typically, the answer to this question had been 10% or a “tithe”
b) However, a careful study of the issue of tithing indicates that there were several “tithes” required of the people of God for different purposes:
(1) One tithe was to support the “sons of Levi” or the spiritual leadership – Numbers 18:21; caring for spiritual leaders has been the responsibility of the people of God from the beginning.
(2) A second tithe was required to support the national feasts and holidays – Deuteronomy 14
(3) A third tithe was required every 3rd year to serve as a basis for the support of the widows and orphans – Deuteronomy 14:28-29
c) Thus, the amount paid annually by the Jewish people in tithes totaled about 23% and was essentially a tax.
d) In addition to the giving that was required, there was voluntary offerings that were expected above the tithes required – cp. Proverbs 3:9-10
(1) The standard for this kind of giving was heart-directed generosity that served as a means of the expression of thanks to the Lord for how He’d provided – cp. Exodus 25:1-2
(2) This serves as the basis for the giving of the New Testament – an expression of worship not of the fulfillment of a legal requirement.
e) In the New Testament, a “tithe” is never required – only that a believer gives from the heart – cp. 2 Corinthians 9:7
5. The benefits of giving in a willing and cheerful manner are clearly delineated in Scripture – cp. Luke 6:38
6. The only delineation of the amount that is appropriate is that it springs out of having first given oneself to the Lord and then give according to a sense of devotion – cp. 2 Corinthians 8:5.
III. THE DISBURSEMENT OF GIVING – 16:3-4
A. The Requirement of Supervision – v. 3
1. It is incumbent on every church to select individuals who are capable of handling the gifts to the Lord – “When I arrive, whomever you may approve …” – a reference to men selected who would handle the money.
2. There seems to be an emphasis on propriety, trustworthiness, and accountability here – “I will send them with letters to carry your gift to Jerusalem.”
3. These “letters” may have included both an accounting sheet as well as introductions to the people of Jerusalem so that the couriers would be well-received without suspicion of having stolen anything.
4. Notice that the qualifications for such a position are not financial or commercial, but moral and spiritual – cp. Acts 6:2-3.
B. The Reflection on Sanctification – v. 4
1. Paul then mentions that if the gifts were of such an amount that would indicate the devotion of the people to the Lord, Paul states that he would accompany them to Jerusalem: “… and if it is fitting for me to go also, they will go with me.”
2. I believe that there is an association made here between the quality of the spiritual devotion of a church and the amount of money they are willing to “part with.”
3. If giving of monetary gifts springs from having first given our hearts to the Lord, then it becomes a fair barometer of our spiritual condition.
4. Paul takes note of this and if there is evidence that the Corinthians are spiritually involved in this offering and not just giving a “token gift,” Paul indicates that it would merit apostolic association and delivery.