Summary: A talk on principles and specific instances that apply to giving in a believer's life.
Text: 1 Cor 16:1-4, Title: The Collection, Date/Place: NRBC, 4/15/12, AM
Opening illustration: Sometimes he would take me and my little brother Steve to the Thursday morning Bible study. George, an elderly gentleman, would split his donut with my little brother. One Sunday my brother came to church with a sandwich bag full of Cheerios. George leaned over and asked Stevie if he could have some. My brother reached in his bag, pulled out a Cheerio, and split it in half, giving George half a Cheerio! I think our view of our own generosity is often like that! God gives us so much, and we give Him back half a Cheerio! A little girl became restless in church as the preacher’s sermon dragged on and on. Finally, she leaned over to her mother and whispered, "Mommy, if we give him the money now, will he let us go?"
Background to passage: Paul moves from the resurrection to practical matters as he winds up his letter. After covering sin of all sorts (division, immorality, laxity, lawsuits, marriage issues, christian liberty), then speaking toward the worship issues (proper appearance, Lord’s Supper, spiritual gifts, love), then following the resurrection, he addresses giving. This particular reference is toward a collection that he has instructed the churches to help with. It is going to the poverty-stricken saints in Jerusalem. Paul says that he is going to stop by and pick of the offering, and he didn’t want to have to collect it when he arrived.
Main thought: from this specific instance of giving, we can derive some principles that apply to all our giving
Associated with worship (v. 2)
It seems clear that Sunday was at this point (55 AD) was the day of worship and gathering for the early church. 1) During the meeting, it also seems custom (and it attested to in the church fathers) to have a time of offering. One account says that the normal practice in some churches was to bring a food offering first, share a meal, then take some of the remainder to the homebound, widows, and orphans; then the money gift, and it was distributed too by the deacons as they went. 2) Another principle that is found here is that giving was regular. It is indicated here to be weekly, but Justin Martyr (150 AD) said that some of the churches practice was monthly. What Paul knew was giving a check of $100 a week was easier on most people than a yearly check of $5200. 3) Another principle was that the gift was to the church treasury. That is the connotation of the word used, and the only thing that would make sense with Paul’s last comment in the verse about not having to collect all the money when he arrived.
Illustration: “There is to be no last-minute, superficial scraping around for funds as an unplanned off-the-cuff gesture,” When I got saved at 17 years old, I began to put back 10% of whatever I made on Friday in a special place in my wallet when I deposited my check each week.
Giving is an act of worship. It is not a bill. You are not paying God. You are honoring your relationship with an act of thanksgiving and trust. Attitude is extremely important to Christian giving. Giving cheerfully and from a heart of love is critical to attaining the benefits of giving, and honoring the Lord of all. Why and how do you give? Make a habit (a regular routine) in your life of giving. We have several, even some of our homebound and inconsistant attendees that honor their commitment to Christ and New River, by sending in their gifts if they are not here. We should give to the church and allow the church to determine where it goes. The practice of the early church was deacons, elders, and missionaries handled it, but the church is the one who handles it here. Go to business meeting prayed up, and set us in motion to do the will of God.
Participation was expected (v. 2)
Note the language “each one of you” of giving. 1) Everyone is supposed to give. From the richest to the poorest. Even slaves and widows gave in the early church, neither of which had any income. In fact in American Christianity The two groups in the United States that give the highest percentages of their income are the poor (those making less than $20,000 per year) and the rich (those making more than $100,000 per year). Middle-class Americans (those making between $40,000 and $100,000 per year) are the smallest percentage givers. 2) Giving was voluntary in the sense of not a “tax,” not optional, but voluntary. Many of the early church leaders did not advocate tithing in the Jewish sense. Explain. Giving was not mandated, but expected. And in our church covenant we voluntarily agree to contribute cheerfully and regularly to the support of the ministry, the expenses of the church, and the relief of the poor, and the spread of the gospel. 3) In the early church giving was primarily intended for the poor among the church, widows, orphans, homebound, survivors, ministers and missionaries, sick, and the imprisoned. Interesting comment, “These gifts are, as it were, piety's deposit fund. For they are not taken thence and spent on feasts, and drinking-bouts, and eating-houses.” –Tertullian.