Giving to God

Text: "Now concerning the collection for the saints" (1 Cor. 16:1).

Thought: The occasion of this instruction on stewardship was a crisis in the church of Jerusalem, and enshrined in the teaching are principles that abide for all time. Consider this grace of giving in three aspects:

1) The Purposeful Regularity of Giving to God
"On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come" (1 Cor. 16:2). In the Old Testament, the tithe, generally speaking, was an annual tax, but here in the New Testament we find that giving to God is to be a weekly contribution. "The first day of the week" is the opportunity for Christians to give as an act of worship.

The Apostle insists that giving is not only a holy habit but a high honor. All giving to God should be a matter of theological conviction, leading to a practical expression. Too often we have dishonored this holy habit by using high pressure methods in order to extract money from uninstructed and undisciplined Christians.

2) The Personal Responsibility of Giving to God
"let each one of you lay something aside." Let us remember that though these words are addressed to the whole church throughout time, they also have a particular relevance to the local assembly. Old and young, rich and poor, must all be involved in this matter of Christian stewardship.

Money has inclusiveness about it because God always associates the gift with the giver. Money has no value unless it is the expression of life, labor, and love. To lay something aside suggests an activity of stewardship which takes place before the money is brought to the central treasury of the church and obviates any hastiness or untidiness in the matter of giving. Thus it is clear that all giving represents personal responsibility to God. No one is excluded and no one can act without thoughtfulness or deliberateness. Oh that the Spirit of God would write these vital principles upon the tables of our hearts!

3) The Practical Reciprocity of Giving to God
"lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper." Reciprocity is the principle of taking and giving; and if there is a genuine consideration of what we receive of God, there will be a genuine calculation of what we return to Him. Paul does not state the exact amount that we are to give to God, but leaves the matter open to the practical reasonableness of every yielded believer. Whether tithe or additional offering of any kind, all giving must be dedicated to the Lord and for His glory! To take this truth seriously will make great demands upon us, but let us remember that this is the price of keeping our church alive in order that the Savior may be glorified and the world evangelized.

Thrust: Lord, we ask for grace and for discipline to give according to Your Word.

David Olford teaches expository preaching at Union University's
Stephen Olford Center in Memphis, Tennessee

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