Summary: This sermon examines the fifth of eight principles "concerning the collection."
We continue our study in The First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians in a series I am calling Challenges Christians Face.
One of the challenges that Christians face is the issue of finances. Two weeks ago I began a section Concerning the Collection. My intention is to preach four messages on the biblical principles of financial stewardship with respect to giving to the Lord.
I would like to reiterate that these messages are intended to help Christians grow in this vital area of discipleship. I have no desire to lay guilt trips on you. I want to motivate you on the basis of God’s Word to obedience in this area of your Christian life.
As I mentioned previously, the material for this series of messages comes from John MacArthur, whose teaching on the subject I have found particularly helpful.
So, with that in mind, let’s read 1 Corinthians 16:1-4. In this text Paul gives us eight principles regarding financial stewardship:
1 Now concerning the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. 2 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. 3 And when I arrive, I will send those whom you accredit by letter to carry your gift to Jerusalem. 4 If it seems advisable that I should go also, they will accompany me. (1 Corinthians 16:1-4)
Kim Peek is the man who inspired the 1988 film Rain Man about an autistic savant with astounding mathematical skills. Peek is what doctors call a mega-savant. A savant possesses remarkable expertise in 1 to 3 subjects. Peek is an expert in at least 15, including history, sports, space, music, and geography. No one in the world is thought to possess a brain as extraordinary as Peek’s. He has total recall of 9,000 books. It was discovered that each of Peek’s eyes can read a separate page simultaneously, absorbing every word. In fact, a page that might take you or me 3 minutes to read, Peek can read in 10 seconds and never forget a word he read!
Kim Peek once went to a performance of Shakespeare’s play, Twelfth Night. As the play was ending, Peek stood up and said out loud, “You’ve got to stop it! Stop it! Stop it!”
It turned out that the actor had skipped the second to the last verse of the play. The actor then apologized saying, “The verses are so much alike I didn’t think it would matter.”
Peek responded, “It mattered to William Shakespeare, and it should matter to you.”
That is how we should feel about the Word of God. God has given us his Word, the Scriptures. And if it mattered to God to give us his Word correctly, then it should matter to us too that we understand, interpret, and apply his Word correctly too.
The way we handle finances is one of the most important barometers of how we handle God’s Word. The way we handle our finances is one of the most important indicators of our spiritual well-being. The Christian is one who seeks to love God with all of his heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30). And to the extent that finances—or anything else, for that matter—rivals his love for God, to that extent he is struggling in his discipleship. And so these messages are designed to help you grow in your love for God.
Let me briefly review what I have covered so far.
I. The Purpose of Giving (16:1)
First, we looked at the purpose of giving.
The purpose of giving as stated in verse 1 is “for the saints,” that is, for the church. The church is to fund its own ministry and needs. More specifically, as you study Scripture you discover that all giving falls essentially into two categories: to support the ministry of the Word and the ministry of mercy.
II. The Period of Giving (16:2a)
Second, the period of giving.
Our giving is to be “on the first day of every week” (v. 2a). It is to be systematic, week after week, so that we come to grips with the stewardship of our money. Even though we may only give once a month, if we receive a pay check once a month, we should nevertheless be sensitive to our financial stewardship every week.
III. The Participants in Giving (16:2b)
Third, the participants in giving.
Paul says that “each of you is to put something aside” (v. 2b). No-one is exempt from giving. No matter how poor you are, if you have anything, you have something to give. Giving is to be a spontaneous, cheerful response of a loving heart toward God who, in his grace, has given us everything.