Church Money Matters—1 Corinthians 16:1-9

20160626FBCAM

Levi Durfey 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

We come to the last chapter in 1 Corinthians, where Paul takes up one more issue where he needs to give some practical instruction.

 

1 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. 2 Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come. 3 And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem. 4 And if it be meet that I go also, they shall go with me. 5 Now I will come unto you, when I shall pass through Macedonia: for I do pass through Macedonia. 6 And it may be that I will abide, yea, and winter with you, that ye may bring me on my journey whithersoever I go. 7 For I will not see you now by the way; but I trust to tarry a while with you, if the Lord permit. 8 But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost. 9 For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries. (1 Corinthians 16:1–9)

 

The primary point of this passage is to help the Corinthian Christians to be orderly in their giving. The principles laid down here are also important for us today.

 

Orderly Giving Will Be:

1. Done for a Godly Purpose

2. Done at Weekly Worship

3. Done in Proportion to One’s Income

4. Done in a Manner above Reproach

 

Orderly Giving Will Be:

I. DONE FOR A GODLY PURPOSE

 

1 Corinthians 16:1 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye.  

 

1. Supporting Poor Christians

 

The first thing that we notice here is that this “collection” was not the normal Sunday offering. This was a special offering for “the saints” in, as verse 3 tells us, the city of Jerusalem. This was a widespread and long-term collection that Paul had several churches involved in (see Romans 15:26).

 

Why did the Christians in Jerusalem need help?

 

We can discern two reasons from the Bible:

 

1) Jerusalem Christians, after the death of Stephen in Acts 7, found themselves under persecution and driven from Jerusalem.

 

1 And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. (Acts 8:1)

 

We can suppose that the believers who were left did not have an easy time of it. You can imagine that Christian bakers were forced out of business because they weren’t kosher!

 

2) Another reason that Christians in Jerusalem needed help was that there had been famines in the area. The first one, occurring in about 46 AD, had been predicted by Agabus.

 

28 And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar. (Acts 11:28)

 

Then there had been other famines, making it difficult for many to get back on their feet again.

 

What we see here then, is the first godly purpose in giving: to help fellow Christians in need. Not that we don’t need to help unbelievers in need as well, as Jesus explained in the parable of the Good Samaritan:

 

In that parable, in Luke 10, Jesus made it clear that we are to give to whoever is in need who crosses our path. Remember that Jesus told that parable because someone asked him, “Who is my neighbour,” expecting a very narrow answer like, just your family and closest friends. 

 

But Jesus told about a Samaritan helping a Jew, two nations of people who detested one another, to show that a neighbor is whoever is in your neighborhood at the time (Luke 10:25-37).

 

But we are especially to help those who are fellow Christians:

 

10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith. (Galatians 6:10)

 

I suppose the reasoning is that, if we can’t show love to one another, how are we ever going to get around to showing love to those who don’t believe in Jesus?

 

2. Supporting The Local Church

 

Of course, giving to the poor, even poor Christians, is not the only giving we are to do—perhaps not even the first things we are to give to. 

 

A key responsibility for the Christian is to give to the local church where he or she attends—to support the ministry that he or she receives there. The Bible makes it clear that pastors are to be supported:

 

6 Let him that is taught in the word communicate [share] unto him that teacheth in all good things. (Galatians 6:6)

 

This is a principle that stretches all the way back to the Old Testament. 

 

21 And, behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tenth in Israel for an inheritance, for their service which they serve, even the service of the tabernacle of the congregation. (Numbers 18:21)

 

These verses are talking about supporting the specific people who are ministers, that is, the preachers and pastors—you can also include missionaries here as well.

 

I remember a story from our church out in Minnesota. Back in the sixties, they would take an offering and give all the money to the pastor. He and his family lived in the back of the church. So he’d pay the electric and gas and then, whatever was left over, that was what his family lived on.

 

But churches these days need to pay for more than just the guy who is preaching. There are utilities, insurance, missionaries, office supplies, and on and on. So the principle to support the preacher must be expanded to support the local church.

 

Giving to the poor and giving to the church and it’s ministers are the godly purposes of orderly giving. 

 

Orderly giving will also be…

 

II. DONE AT WEEKLY WORSHIP

 

1 Corinthians 16:2 Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.  

 

Paul says that the people are to lay aside the money for the collection “Upon the first day of the week.” 

 

The Jews did not refer to the days of the week like we do (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, etc.). Instead, they took their names from the account in Genesis: the first day, the second day, and so on. 

 

The first day of the week is special to Christians because… “Jesus was risen early the first day of the week” (Mark 16:9). So, naturally, Christians started to meet on the first day—what we call Sunday—for worship (see Acts 20:7).

 

You can see that Paul was being practical here. Since they were already meeting on the first day for worship, they might as well do the collecting at that time also.

 

But is more that just practical to give on the first day while at worship—it is also fitting. Why? Because giving is worship. How is giving worship? Let’s turn to 2 Corinthians 9 to see how:

 

7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:7)

 

Giving is worship because it requires a worshipful heart for our giving to be pleasing to God. 

 

How so? Consider the act of singing. You can sing and it not be worshipping God. But if your heart is cheerful towards God, the act of singing becomes worship. 

 

Giving is the same way: give with a heart that is cheerful towards God, and your giving becomes worship! 

 

Why should our heart be cheerful toward God?

 

8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: 9 (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever. 10 Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;) 11 Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God. 12 For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God; (2 Corinthians 9:8–12)

 

Giving that is worship comes back to understanding where all that we have comes from—it comes from God. Think about what God has given to you in your life. Let that make your heart cheerful and worshipful.

 

I love verse 12, where Paul says that their giving not only supplied the needs of fellow Christians, but was abundant—overflowing—in thanksgiving to God.

 

13 Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men; 14 And by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you. 15 Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift. (2 Corinthians 9:13–15)

 

Giving is worship because it causes others to worship and glorify God. These poor Christians would receive a monetary gift and overflow in worship to God. 

 

I hope that you read the letters from the missionaries we support. They often express thankfulness for the support they receive—and, when we give a special gift—you can be sure that most of them send a card of thanksgiving (not that is at all necessary to do—we shouldn’t expect it or require it—but it should encourage us when they do—our giving caused others to worship).

 

Orderly giving will also be…

III. DONE IN PROPORTION TO ONE’S INCOME

 

1 Corinthians 16:2 Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.  

 

The word “prospered” (εὐοδῶται, εὐοδόω, VPPS3S, prospered) doesn’t mean that we only give when we think that God has made us rich. It isn’t saying, “If I can pay off my debts, and make enough to spare, then I’ll start giving to the church.” 

 

It does, however, mean that we give in proportion to our income. We see this confirmed in Acts 11—

 

29 Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea: (Acts 11:29)

 

Some Christians argue that we don’t need to tithe anymore because Paul doesn’t mention the tithe—giving 10 percent—in these verses. They argue that it’s legalistic to say Christians must give 10 percent. 

 

I agree—Christians should give more than 10 percent! Paul doesn’t mention the tithe so that we can be free to give less than 10 percent. He doesn’t mention the tithe so that we can be free to give more than 10 percent!

 

What Paul is saying here is to look at how “God hath prospered” you. Determine what you really need to live on, what you really need to save, and give the rest. 

 

It might be ten percent—I personally think that should be the least we should give. I think that, if you give at least ten percent, God will honor that and you’ll find yourself always having enough to live on. 

 

But it would be legalistic to say you just need to stop at ten percent. How has God prospered you? Can you give more? Twelve, fifteen, twenty percent? 

 

As you give more, you will find that God continues to prosper you, as he says in Malachi:

 

10 Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be meat in mine house, And prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, If I will not open you the windows of heaven, And pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. (Malachi 3:10)

 

One example of giving and receiving the blessing is found in the story of R.G. LeTourneau, who was called the “Dean of Earthmoving.” He invented all sorts of earthmoving equipment and greatly advanced the field of earthmoving in the first of the twentieth century. 

 

He was also a devout Christian who got to the point of giving 90 percent of his income to the Lord. He said, “I shovel out the money, and God shovels it back—but God has a bigger shovel” (Alcorn).

 

Or, another, more down to earth story (pun intended) is about an older couple who said:

 

Our life’s purpose for giving is as follows: Help fulfill the Great Commission by giving 50 percent of our annual income to Christian causes that have the greatest leverage. To do this we must maximize our income, consult with people knowledgeable about ministry, and select the best organizations to support. We have averaged giving 33 percent for the last fifteen years, and in the most recent two years we have moved to 50 percent of our gross income. (Alcorn)

 

Orderly giving will be done in proportion to one’s income, and…

 

Orderly giving will also be…

IV. DONE IN A MANNER ABOVE REPROACH

 

1. Above Reproach By Not Using Emotional Pressure

 

In verse 2, Paul mentions that he wants that there be “no gatherings when I come.” Why would he say that? Different suggestions have been made, including that Paul didn’t want to waste time gathering the offering when he got there. 

 

But the best answer I think has to do with keeping the collection above reproach. He did not want pressure the Corinthians into giving just out of an emotional appeal from the great apostle Paul. 

 

He could have done that, you know. He could have come into town, called the Christians together and made a tearful, heartfelt plea about those poor saints in Jerusalem. 

 

Then he could have said, “I, Paul, the apostle of Christ by the will of God, call you to give! Let’s pass the plates around now.” 

 

No, Paul did not want to use his stature to pressure people into giving, so he said that there should be “no gatherings when I come.” 

 

I tend to shy away from emotional appeals for people to give. Giving should be from a cheerful heart, but not from an emotional heart.

 

2. Above Reproach By Maintaining Personal Accountability

 

Another way Paul kept the offering above reproach was in how the money was taken to Jerusalem.

 

1 Corinthians 16:3 And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem.  

1 Corinthians 16:4 And if it be meet that I go also, they shall go with me.  

 

Paul did not want to be accountable alone for the money. He did not want anyone to be able to accuse him of skimming money off the top or even stealing the whole collection. 

 

So he asked that the Corinthians pick out some men to take the offering to Jerusalem. And, if it is “meet,” meaning fitting and proper, that he should go—well, those men would go with him. His main concern was to be above reproach by being personally accountable.

 

I’ve always appreciated that, in this church, more than one person counts the offering. I’ve been in churches where only the treasurer counted the offering. It’s good to keep everything above reproach. 

 

Someone might argue, “So you don’t think I’m trustworthy to count the money by myself?” Well, was the apostle Paul trustworthy? Yes, he was, yet he made sure to keep himself above reproach. So should we.

 

CONCLUSION

 

The last thing about giving I want to say is this: throughout my years of being a Christian and a pastor, I’ve seen people give big gifts to churches. 

 

At one church, there was a man who donated thousands of dollars for a project, in fact, he donated half the total cost. The thing was, the guy rarely ever came to church. In fact, in observing his life in the community, while he was a nice man, there didn’t seem to be any fruit growing in his life that would indicate that he was a Christian.

 

Why did he give? Well, we can’t know for sure, but there are people who give money to churches because they think it will earn them points with God. They think they will be able to stand before God and check off their good deeds and God will say, “Come on in.”

 

Muhammad Ali revealed this was his attitude when he told People magazine in 1997, “Everything I do, I say to myself, ‘Will God accept this?’…One day it’s Judgment Day. So you do good deeds.”

 

Here’s the thing though, salvation is a gift. No amount of giving money or good deeds will ever be able to buy a free gift. The Bible says,

 

8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2:8–9)

 

Have you accepted the free gift of Jesus Christ today?

 

First, admit that you are a rebel against God and you need the gift of salvation that he offers (Romans 3:23, 6:23).

 

Second, believe in Jesus and what he did on the cross by dying for our sins and believe that he rose from the dead (Romans 10:9). 

 

Third, trust in Jesus alone—nothing else—for your salvation (John 1:12, 14:6; Ephesians 2:8-9).

 

Fourth, then, and only then, you can worship Jesus by giving your time, your talent, and your treasure. You can worship by giving because you won’t be trying to buy salvation, instead your heart will be overflowing in thanksgiving to the one who bought salvation for you.

 

NOTES AND WORKS CITED

 

Alcorn, Randy. Money, Possessions, and Eternity. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale, 2003.

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