Concerning the collection

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1 Cor. 16:1-4

For several weeks now we have been studying from Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth and since we are in chapter 16 you can tell that we are coming to the end of our study.

  • And it may be that for some these first four verses of chapter 16 will be the most uncomfortable of the letter.

In this letter the apostle Paul has taught us that there should be no divisions among us.

  • He has warned us about being impressed with the intelligence of men and combining that intelligence with the Word of God.

  • And He has talked to us about causing conflict and strife; and practicing immorality…and allowing immorality to exist among us.

  • And He has told us that we shouldn’t be taking each other to court.

  • And He has given us instructions on marriage; and he has admonished us about causing a weaker brother to stumble; and demanding our rights at the expense of another’s faith.

  • And then He has warned us about grumbling against God; and eating from the Lord’s Table while participating with the table of demons.

  • And He had some strong words about abusing the fellowship meals; and arrogantly misusing the spiritual gifts.

  • And He talked to us about what love is…and how we should love.

  • And then he spoke to us about the orderliness of the worship assemblies and that all should be done to edify the body.

  • And then in chapter 15 he addressed the issue of the resurrection.

  • And in the face of all those issues and topics what Paul talks about here in these three verses seems to make some people more uncomfortable…perhaps even more resentful than all the others.

  • What Paul talks to us about in these first 4 verses is money…giving your money!

No subject in the scriptures seems to cause more resentment…more embarrassment…more discomfort than the subject of giving your money.

  • I have in the past gone to see someone who came to the assemblies a couple of times and then didn’t come back…I have gone to see them to ask if something had happened or if something was wrong and they have said, “All you people are interested in is my money. You are constantly asking for more money!”

  • I had a man tell me one time that he had attended worship services 3 or 4 times and one time they spent the entire time talking about the budget, the next time the preacher spoke on the contribution or lack of, then the next time they took up a special contribution.

  • Others are on the opposite side: they have expressed a little embarrassment because they can’t give much money.

  • Probably the most uncomfortable part of our assemblies is not the singing…it is not the praying…and it is not the sermon…the most uncomfortable part of our assemblies for many people is the giving!

I think most of you have heard about the little boy who was sitting in the worship service and the preacher was preaching…and preaching…and to the little boy it seemed like the preacher was going on and on and on…and the little boy leaned over to his dad and said, “Do you think he would stop if we went ahead and gave him his money?”

  • For some people they think it is all about the money.

  • And I believe that the reason some people feel the way they do about giving is because they have been pressured into it…and they have been made to feel that it is all about money…they feel the way they do because of some wrong concepts they have.

So, let’s look at this passage at what the apostle Paul says, and let’s hopefully clear up some of those wrong concepts that may be causing some problems and embarrassment.

Now, the first thing I am going to ask you to do is take out a part of your Bible.

  • Do you see the chapter break and maybe the little subtitle that goes with it?

  • Take that out…eliminate it in your mind…that is inserted there by man to make referencing easier…so remove it in your mind.

When you do that I think it is striking how the apostle Paul moves from a discussion of the resurrection, and the victory we have in Christ, and the admonition for us to be “steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord,” into this discussion of giving.

  • He has told us, “There will be a resurrection…and you as a child of God will be raised…but you won’t have a physical body that will perish…God will give you an imperishable body…

  • And if you are alive when the Lord comes…you will be changed in the twinkling of an eye…and God will give you an imperishable body because this physical body cannot go to heaven…and when that change takes place death will have been defeated and you will live forever…no longer to die.

  • And because God has made you victorious over death…and sin…and the condemnation of the Law…you be steadfast…and immovable…and always abounding in the work of the Lord.”

  • “And speaking of work…here is something you can do…you can help in this collection for the saints!”

  • And in making this gradual transition from the resurrection, to being victorious, to working, then to helping the saints…the apostle Paul impresses on us that the giving of money for the work of the Lord cannot be separated from the spiritual entities of Christianity.

  • Many people are critical of the taking up of a collection and they say it is “Less than spiritual”…but the apostle Paul ties it in with being a spiritual part of the Christian’s service.

Just a few weeks ago we took up a special collection to purchase Bibles for schools in the Ukraine.

  • We also took up money to help with the Christian Home in Abilene.

  • And in the past we have given to Cherokee, and to Medina, and to assist disaster victims, and to help missionaries and AIM students…

  • Let me ask you this…which is more spiritual…praying or giving your money to the work of the Lord?

  • What about singing and giving to the work of the Lord?

  • What about visiting the sick and giving to the Lord…which is the most spiritual?

  • When you give to help other saints…when you give to the work of the Lord that is as spiritual and pleasing to God as any other kind of work that you can do for the Lord.

  • There is nothing “less than spiritual about giving” to the work of the Lord.

  • Could that be the reason why we have a prayer every time before we take up a collection?

Now, look at vs. 1: “Now concerning the collection for the saints,”

  • When Paul mentions the “saints” here we know from Romans 15: 25-26 and 2 Corinthians 8 and 9 that he is speaking in reference to the saints in Jerusalem.

  • And we know from Acts 8:2 that what happened was a “great persecution arose against the church in Jerusalem” and Hebrews 10: 34 tells us that these saints were losing their possessions, and they were being punished and treated harshly, and they lost their wealth, and their resources, and as a result they were reduced to poverty.

  • And so the apostle Paul had called on these Gentile churches to help the saints in Jerusalem with their needs.

And what you have here is a beautiful picture of how the church is one no matter where congregations are.

  • And what happens to our brothers and sisters in other corners of the world ought to be a concern to us as well.

  • Even though miles may separate us we are part of the universal body of Christ and Paul never lost sight of that.

So Paul says, “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I directed the churches of Galatia, so do you also.

  • Every where Paul went, every where that Paul established a church, he taught them to give because giving is an essential part of Christianity.

  • It is not an option…it is something that every Christian should do.


  • Remember what Paul has just said before this?

  • He has just told us that there will be a resurrection…and that God will give us a new body…and that we have been made victorious over death.

  • As a result we are to “abound in the work of the Lord”…and one way we can do that is to “take up a collection” to help others.

  • So Paul is basically saying, “Because of what all God has done for you…you now do this?”

  • Christian giving is to spring forth from grace…from what God has done for you.

  • It is not to spring forth from resentment.

  • If you haven’t received anything from the Lord, by all means, don’t give anything.

  • If God hasn’t moved in your life…keep your money.

  • But if He has…if He has forgiven you, if He has blessed your home, if He has blessed your marriage and your children…then out of those gracious gifts of God comes the motivation to give.

Look now at verse 2. Paul says they were to do this on “On the first day of every week...”

  • This was something that was to be done every week.

  • This is one of the first indications in the epistles that the Christians had begun to gather regularly to worship.

  • And by doing this on the first day of the week it was a reminder to them of their need to give.

  • It kept them from letting this slip their minds.

And Paul says, “Let each of you…”

  • Paul doesn’t leave anyone out…Christians ought to give because God has given so much to each one.

  • It isn’t the amount that is important…but it is the fact that God has give so much to each one of us.

I really appreciate parents who teach their children to give at a young age…because when you do that you are teaching them an essential part of being a child of God.

And then notice that Paul says, “Let each of you put aside and save” or “lay by and store.”

  • These people were setting aside their money for this purpose…and what this indicates is that they had determined that they would have a part in this specific need…and they were giving regularly to meet that need.

  • They weren’t giving to nothing…or giving to everything.

  • They were meeting a determined need.

A lot of people today only respond to an emotional appeal…and there are thousands of them.

  • You get appeals to give to crying babies…and hurting people all over the world.

  • And it may be that those are legitimate appeals.

  • But what I am suggesting here is that appeals to help need to be investigated to make sure they really are valid.

  • There are a lot of fakes, rascals, and racketeers…making an appeal and building fortunes off of Christian’s compassion.

  • Paul has a definite objective in view that these people have determined to give to.

And then Paul says, “as he may prosper…”

  • This means you give according to the way that God has given to you.

  • Has He poured out an abundance? Then give abundantly.

  • If you are having a hard time and barely making it then your gift can be reduced proportionately.

  • It ought to be something but it can be very little because God is not interested in the total amount at all…He is only interested in the motive of the heart.

  • This proportion is to be based on your awareness of how much God has given to you and how much the motive of your heart has been stirred by the gifts and grace of God.

This is not a tithe.

  • A tithe speaks of 10%.

  • In the O. T. the Israelites were told to give a tithe…they had to give 10%...didn’t matter if you were rich or poor…they gave 10%.

  • The problem is this turned into a legalistic giving…with no sense of gratitude to God or love for God…it simply became a duty.

Not only that people had a tendency to hold their giving to that 10% and nothing more regardless of how blessed they were and what the need was.

  • No where in the N.T. is tithing taught.

  • But proportionate giving is taught.

  • God does not give us wealth in order to use it on ourselves and live a lavish lifestyle.

  • He gives us our wealth that we might share it abundantly with those who have pressing needs.

Now, let me tell you what I have seen in the past.

  • I have seen elderships encourage and have their members sign commitment cards where the people “commit” to the amount of money they will give each week.

  • So a man commits to a set amount because at the time he is prospering.

  • But as the months go by his business drops off…the economy goes bad…or he suffers a heart attack and has huge medical bills…and making his commitment is not feasible any more.

  • If he cuts back on his commitment is he wrong? Should the elders press him on this, “You committed and we expect you to keep your commitment?”

  • If he is held to his commitment but can’t pay his bills…can’t provide for his family…will he have the right spirit in his giving?

  • If something like this happens to you, according to 1 Timothy 5:8, God expects for you to provide for your family first…and then if possible you can give what you can to the work of the church.

Now, look at verse 2 again…at the end of the verse Paul says, “That no collections be made when I come.”

  • The apostle Paul knew that personally his presence had an impact on people and he does not want their giving to come because they have been moved by who he is and by his preaching.

  • He doesn’t want these brethren pressured into giving; he doesn’t want any extortion.

  • And there is a lot of extortion going on in Christendom today: Psychological tricks, gimmicks of all kinds, tremendous emotional pressure that is built up in a meeting that is meant to get people’s money.

  • Paul says, “I don’t want a three ring circus going on with people running down the aisles trying to meet a particular goal.”

  • Instead, Paul wants their giving to come from a heart that has been moved by the grace of God.

And then in vs. 3-4 Paul is emphasizing that the giving should be handled responsibly.

  • He says a provision should be made to make sure that the contribution gets to the right source in the right way.

Taking up a collection is a sore spot…a source of irritation…perhaps a source of embarrassment and guilt for a lot of Christians.

  • I believe that much of the unsettled feelings in reference to the giving of money is due to some wrong actions in the past and some misunderstanding as to how the money is to be given.

  • God does not intend for the collection to be a source of contention…instead He intends for each one to give with a cheerful heart.

  • To do that lets all remember that giving is as spiritual and pleasing to God as any other act of worship that God commands.

  • Let’s remember that we are a part of a universal body and our giving is to spring forth from God’s grace…from what God has done for us.

  • It is done on the first day of the week…a weekly participation…a reminder of our need to give.

  • Each one giving to a determined objective not some emotional, unfounded appeal.

  • And we are to give “a proportionate amount depending on how you have prospered” with no pressure…and with a responsible delivery of the collection taken.

  • Giving this way with this understanding will eliminate much of the discomfort associated with the collection.

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