Concerning the Collection
Concerning the Collection (1 Corinthians 16:1-6)
A discussion of the collection is an essential part of the Christian faith. The apostle has just concluded his great affirmation of the resurrection. Alongside with that, he places this discussion of the believer's giving. The historical situation is well documented. The Jewish saints in Jerusalem were enduring a time of deprivation due to persecution or famine. Paul's Gentile converts were to collect a relief offering for them. The Corinthians had asked Paul, "How do we do it?"
Paul does not appeal to the Corinthians on the basis of emotion, or play with their consciences by describing the terrible plight of the starving. The Christian life is not built on impulse, but on disciplined principle. In the area of giving, God brings order, and He removes us from the bondage to mere impulse. How do you give? By impulse or by principle?
The Principle of Planned Regularity
The apostle begins with the emphasis, "On the first day of every week" (v. 2a). That is our Sunday. The Christians celebrated the day after the Jewish sabbath as a commemoration of Jesus' resurrection. Among other things to be consecrated on that day are to be our gifts. As a part of the worship of the risen Christ that hallows the first day of the week, we are as a principle to give.
That is, this text calls for the formation of a holy habit. Some seem to be afraid of religious habits. We have habits in every other area of life. Personal hygiene, work, and the payment of bills are all matters or principle and habit in the life of the normal human being. We live by habit. God wants us to live by some holy habits. He desires us to plan, with commitment, purpose, and determination, that we will give to Him regularly. Certainly God deserves the same discipline we reserve for the utility company and the mortgage company. You should not wait for a certain spirit, impulse, or some special need to move you to give. God wishes you to give on a principle of planned regularity.
The Principle of Personal Responsibility
The apostle continues, "let each one of you put aside and save" (v. 2b, NASB). There are to be no exceptions when it is time for the collection. Had we surveyed the Corinthian church, we would have tended to exclude many of its members from the collection. This letter itself implies that the Corinthians were, by no means, people of financial ability: "not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble" (1 Cor. 1:26, NASB). Yet, Paul appealed to each member of this depressed community, without exception, to give to the collection. Indeed, it would have been a real disservice to the Corinthians not to have been so encouraged. God has gone on record that if the windows of heaven are to open on our lives, we must so give (Mal. 3:10ff.).
It is interesting to review the personal responsibility of the members of Travis Avenue Baptist Church. In 1985, 8.1 percent of our members (family units), gave 49.7 percent of our budget receipts. From another perspective, 21.5 percent of our members gave 75.6 percent of our budget receipts. 69.5 percent of our members gave 5.4 percent of our budget receipts. This would indicate that there are many among us who need to discover the principle of personal responsibility. Among the households in our resident membership, 37.9 percent of our members gave nothing to the cause of Christ through our church in 1985. Obviously, there needs to be a total reassessment on the part of some, with reference to giving. We are to give on the principle of personal responsibility. It is easy to hand responsibility for many things in the church to others. But, Scripture is emphatic that the collection is the responsibility of every member.
The Principle of Proportionate Return
Each member is to give "as God hath prospered him" (v. 2c, KJV). That means that every believer is to give proportionately. This bases what you give on God's activity toward you in your life. Throughout Scripture, men are called to give, never less, but sometimes more than, the tithe. Proportionate giving shows God's wisdom and fairness. All cannot give the same amount. But, all may give the same proportion. This also demonstrates God's flexibility. It lets God determine how much we will give. When you follow God's principles in giving, there is always sufficiency for what you need and for what God needs to do, and He can and will bless His giving people to do it. Why not give by principle this year?