Summary: This is a review of some Scriptural principles that apply to our participation in the Church Offering or Collection.
Of all the items of worship, the one that gets the least of attention is the Offering. I think that is the case for a couple reasons -
First, we do not place much emphasis on the Offering because we do not want to be grouped together with other churches and religious ministries that focus a great deal on soliciting for money. There are some churches and ministers who spend much of their time and effort in begging for money. In our efforts to distance ourselves from that kind of activity, we sometimes go to the other extreme and almost act embarrassed or ashamed to pass the offering basket around each Lord’s Day.
Secondly, we do not place a spotlight on the Offering because it is a very private act of worship. Even though we pass the basket around to each member of the church, what each one does with the basket is between them and God alone. Whether or not one gives and, if they give, how much is given is a private affair between the giver and God.
Today, it is my intention to review some Scriptures that apply to the Offering or Collection so that we can base this area of worship upon Scriptural principles. We want to offer every act of worship in spirit and in truth; therefore, it is important that we know the kind of spirit that God wants when it comes to giving.
The passage that we most often cite as the example that we have for the offering is in 1 Corinthians 16:1-2, “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I directed the churches of Galatia, so do you also. On the first day of every week let each one of you put aside and save, as he may prosper, that no collections be made when I come.”
From this passage, I want us to note a few points.
1. First, the offering is taken-up on the first day of every week. The offering is part of our Sunday, Lord’s Day worship to God.
2. It is something that each member of the Church is to participate in - “let each one of you.”
3. Paul qualifies that statement that each member is to contribute by adding the phrase “as he may prosper.” This is an important point. First, it tells us that if you have not prospered that week - if you have not received any financial income that week, you are not obligated to contribute. Secondly, it tells us that Paul expected our giving to be tied to the amount of our income. Our giving is to be proportional to our receiving. Paul lays down this principle in 2 Corinthians 8:12, “For if the readiness is present, it is acceptable according to what a man has, not according to what he does not have.”
4. The last point I want to bring forth from our 1 Corinthians 16 passage is that the collection is for the saints. That is, the money collected is to be used to benefit the Church and its members rather than outsiders. We are to help outsiders out of our own pockets but the Church uses its treasury to benefit its work and to assist its own members.
Lets now turn to 2 Corinthians 9:7, where Paul talks further about our giving to the church collection - “Let each one do just as he has purposed in his heart; not grudgingly or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver.”
Here, Paul really addresses the spirit of our giving. Let’s again note some points contained in this verse.
1. Even though Paul admonished each member of the congregation to be active in giving, yet he does not want anyone to give if they feel that they are being compelled to do so. It is a free-will offering and Paul wants us to participate because we want to rather than because we feel that we have to.
2. Paul says do not give “grudgingly,” which means that the giving is accompanied by sorrow. He doesn’t want us to feel like we are parting with a dear friend or loved one when we part with our money. God warns us about being covetous.
3. Paul says that God wants us to give because we want to. “God loves a cheerful giver.” If you give without the desire to give, God would rather that you not give at all. The Greek word rendered “cheerful” is the term from which we get our word ‘hilarious.’ God wants our cheerfulness to overflow as we give.
The next point I want to comment on is found in Romans 12:8. There, Paul instructs that “he who gives, [do so] with liberality.”
Paul spoke of our spirit in giving - not grudgingly but cheerfully - now he tells us how much we should be willing to give. Rather than being stingy, we are to be liberal in our giving.