Summary: Often times as a Christian we think that what we do only affects us. In reality the body of Christ is an intertwined unit and who we are and what we do does indeed impact others for good or not. With that in mind, the Apostle Paul gives some parting but v
Usually people ignore the final chapters of many of Paul’s letters. They are usually filled with last minute instructions, greetings, and signatures. We don’t know who many of the people are, and already know who Paul is, so we skip over these sections. But in 1st Corinthians 16 there are some neat little nuggets that we can find that help us understand the mechanics of everyday life as a maturing apprentice of Jesus the Messiah, and the mechanics of everyday ministry.
First off we look at the topic of giving—everyone’s favorite subject!
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The latter part of the first century was tough on believers everywhere, but more so in Jerusalem. Both Jews and Romans began ganging up on the Christians, plus the area suffered several famines. This series of bad circumstances provided a wonderful opportunity to do some growing in the lives of believers many hundreds of miles removed from the situation.
You know, often we think of how bad it is that we face difficulty, but how often the Lord actually uses a bad thing in our lives to prompt something good in others. Bad things are going to happen, but it helps to know that God is powerful enough to work them for good in our life and in others, even if we never see it!
Let’s look at how this worked:
�Everyone was to give, but the amount was up to each person.
�The giving was regular (each Sunday)
�They were to bring it to the church
�Paul didn’t want anyone concerned about appearances when he was there, either the temptation to feel superior by openly giving a large amount, or inferior by not giving anything at all during such a collection.
Giving is an important component of being a part of the body of Christ. Each one of us should be giving to the church. What I like here is that the amount was up to each person and dependent, not on some external goal, but an individual circumstance. And while this was about money in particular, sometimes our abundance or lack is something else—talent, time, or other tangible things like property. Perhaps you have an abundance of money but a lack of time—you can still pray how God wants you to be a giver.
The money was to come to the church. It’s amazing how quickly things come up that will steal away the things we have set aside to give to the Lord if we hold on to it until the right time. Last month our car broke down and it would have been mighty tempting to use the money we had set aside to the Lord for that. But in our case, when we get paid we not only set aside the money but then give it before we can get out hands on it! That’s just a good principal.
Paul also didn’t want the giving to be dependent on what he or other people thought about or reacted to the giving. Jesus said not to let our left hand know what our right hand was doing in terms of giving. Your gift is between God and you.
This has another interesting effect. Now the Corinthians are on notice. Paul is coming. They couldn’t act like they were going to be so giving then just not do it. In the same way it is important for us to follow through. As James said “let you yes be yes and your no no!”
I should also point out that there is no New Testament law of tithing. You should give but there is no minimum, and no maximum as well!
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This section might be more like “Paul’s travel itinerary” and not all that important to us. But actually it contains some vital information when coupled with what happened.
We find the narrative of this time in Acts 19 and 20. Paul has been spending time in Ephesus and wants to go through Macedonia on his way to Corinth then on to Jerusalem. He doesn’t want a quick overnight visit but to stay for a while. This is really prudent on Paul’s part because of the dysfunction in Corinth. His hunch played out big time.
Paul didn’t want to leave right away because of ministry opportunities. Now you might think that would mean throngs of people coming to Christ and everyone treating you well. Such was not the case. In fact, in Acts 19 there is the story of the Ephesian riot caused by Demetrius the silversmith who made little Diana statues for people to worship. Paul could have easily gotten himself killed in that riot.
Things going well from a human stand point doesn’t mean they going well in the Lord – and vice versa – when times are hard it may be a wider door for ministry than you ever dreamed. Don’t let the arbiter be the external circumstances but God’s leading in your heart.