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Giving Gracefully for the Good of the Church

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1 Corinthians 16:1–4 ESV
Now concerning the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come. And when I arrive, I will send those whom you accredit by letter to carry your gift to Jerusalem. If it seems advisable that I should go also, they will accompany me.
We have come to the final chapter of Paul’s 1st letter to the Corinthian Church. We have reached a paragraph where Paul is changing topics. He is moving from the resurrection to the church’s responsibility to provide care through a collection of gifts for her sister church in need. These first four verses of chapter 16 provide us with some helpful principles as we consider New Testament giving.
Before we get into the text and the principles we learn from these 4 verses on giving. I want to commend the church of Pray’ s Mill for her generosity. Especially in caring for those in need within the local body.
I have witnessed,
Envelopes of cash generously given to people in need.
I have been blessed with monetary gift in times of need. Let me explain, When Emilee was in the hospital....
I have seen the church generously provide housing.
I have seen the church provide transportation.
I have seen this church provide meals.
I have seen this church provide manpower, both pastoral and practical.
What I don’t want to do is this lesson to turn into Pray’s Mill doesn’t not share and care for the poor.
However, what it did to me is challenge me, and yes convict me regarding the stewardship of what God has given me and how I need to become much more intentional regarding my putting aside and storing up.
So I pray this morning there will be encouragement and exhortation from this text. Let’s get started.
I believe we see two divisions in this text which will provide for us the two main points for this mornings lesson.
First Paul provides,
I. Directions for the Collection
Secondly he will lay out instructions for,
II. Distribution of the Collection
Let’s consider first of all,

I. Directions for the Collection.

We see Paul explaining his purpose for these next 4 verse in,
1 Corinthians 16:1 ESV
Now concerning the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do.
Curtis Vaughn provides 3 helpful purposes regarding this collection.
An acknowledgement of the spiritual debt owed to the Jersualem church.
An obvious demonstration of the genuineness of faith of the gentile.
A method of linking Jewish and gentile Christians more closely together.
Notice Paul teaching,

A. Consistency in Collection (1)

He writes,
Now concerning the collection,
Paul explains I have some instruction for you regarding the collection.
Collection λογεία, ας f: the act of collecting contributions, especially those involving voluntary response—‘collection

This word (which occurs only in these two verses in the NT) was used in papyrus letters for financial contributions, especially a collection that had religious overtones.

In other words Paul is giving them direction, order in a sense to collect these funds for the saints. Those who are set apart, the church. Evidently there is church in need and Paul has already taught the church at Galatia about the need for gathering a gift for their brothers and sisters in need and now he is directing the church at Corinth to do the same.
Galatians 2:10 ESV
Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.
We see twice in the book of Acts where Paul passed through the region of Galatia,
Acts 16:6 ESV
And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia.
and
Acts 18:23 ESV
After spending some time there, he departed and went from one place to the next through the region of Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples.
It is as if he had heard they were not willing to send aid to their sister church and he is coming along and saying. Now, I have heard that you haven’t sent help to the struggling saints in Jerusalem, but I am directing you as I did the church in Galatia to gather up some gifts, a collection so we can show our sacrificial love to the saints in Jerusalem.
Here are a couple of ideas to consider regarding Paul’s charge to gather a collection.
It continues his theme of worship. As he has rebuked them for their self-centered worship practices of seeking the wrong spiritual gifts, selfishly coming to the Lord’s table, and a lack of submission (head coverings at the time). He now turns to their lack of maturity in giving. For some reason they had not been sending help to the churches in need. Paul is saying, look to the church at Galatia, give as I have directed them to do. Send help to the saints in need, this too is an act of worship.
Today we can get so caught up in competing with churches, that we forget the biblical model of helping churches in needed. The church was relatively young at this time, so you can imagine the needs they had. It was the responsibility of the body of Christ to not only care for their internal needs but their external.
The church today often sends more help to parachurch organizations instead of assemblies of sister churches in need. I pray we continue to see a healthy strong, alignment, of like minded churches who maintain sound doctrine and have a strong desire to make disciples.
We not only see the consistency Paul is calling for in the collection of support for the saints among the church, we also see,

B. The Priority of Collection (2)

1 Corinthians 16:2 ESV
On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come.
Here, Paul reminds wants the church to understand when this collection should be taken. He writes, do as I directed the churches of Galatia, on the first day of the week. When you gather for worship on the Lord’s day.
From the beginning of the NT church the first day of the week was when the church assembled for worship.
Acts 20:7 ESV
On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight.
The apostle John refers to the first day of the week as the Lord’s day.
Revelation 1:10 ESV
I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet
Since then the church has gathered for worship on the Lord’s day. And what Paul is prescribing to the churches here is giving as an act of worship.
You should take up a collection for the saints. You should consider what your Lord has done for you and seek to send relief to those who are in need.
This giving of aid to the saints then is an act of worship.
It is an act of thanking God for what he has done for you.
It is an act of trusting God of turning loose of finances even when things may be tight knowing he will care for you.
It is an act of loving your neighbor.
It is an act of missions giving, giving for the good and flourishing of the church.
It is an act of worship. As Pastor Matt says it a response to God’s revelation to us. He saves, sustains, and supplies all of our needs therefore we hear the Scriptures, Sing the Gospel, Send prays of adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication to God, and we Send help to the Saints those who are already known and to call those who have yet been saved.
Now this specific collection was one for a specific purpose and a specific amount of time. But the act of giving on the Lord’s day was a continual sign of worship and devotion to the Lord.
John Gill records,

from the accounts of Justin Martyr, and of Tertullianx, that it was usual for the primitive churches in the age following that of the apostles, after the worship of God was over, to collect money for widows and orphans, and for saints in distress, such as were banished into distant parts, or condemned to the mines; and this practice was very agreeable to the customs of the apostle’s countrymen, the Jews, from whence he might take this, who used to collect for, and distribute to the poor on their sabbath.

This is the priority of the church. This is a prescribed act of worship from the Scriptures to be done on the Lord’s day!
Paul explains the priority or timing of giving as an act of worship, third he provides the,

C. Calling for the Collection (2b)

Notice first those who are called to collect,
each of you,
This is an individual act of worship for which every believer is called. He doesn’t include just the rich, just the deacons, just the men, just the super spiritual. He writes each one of you. Each of you who are members of the church of Corinth as I have directed the churches in Galatia are to take up a collection on the first day of the week.
Members of the church at Corinth were to, put something aside and store it up,
The imperative command here is put something aside. In other words as you receive remuneration during the week, as you are compensated for your labors during the week take a portion of that and put is aside, save it, set is apart and store it up. Save it for Sunday, the Lord’s day where you will bring it in and collect it as a body.
What wold naturally be the next question that would follow this command? How much?
As he may prosper,
Notice Paul doesn’t say 10%, 15%, 20% he says as much as you can afford to bring. According to the grace the Lord has shown you, you give proportionately. I would say also, there are time when we may give according to the need. If we as believers here that there is someone in need, we may give more than usual understanding the need is greater.
This exhortation doesn’t mean if you and I are in a season of financial distress we should completely forsake giving to the Lord. How do we know?
Consider Jesus’ commendation of the widow who gave two mites. Did he say she should take that back because she is poor? No he commends her for her sacrificial giving.
Now this ought to encourage us in season of plenty, when we are prospering to increase our giving proportionately to what God has given us.
John MacArthur points to and comments on,
Proverbs 11:24 ESV
One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.
“In other words, if you want to increase your money share it generously; if you want to lose your money, hoard it.”
It seems as this also should cause us as believers to be considering throughout the week how we should give. We should always as Peter says be mindful of God. Considering his grace in our lives and the potential needs that may need to be met a the time. Yes we are going to have a personal giving commitment, but at the same time we must be sensitive to greater needs.
Consider the purpose Paul provides for the putting away of an offering for collection.
so that there will be no collecting when I come.
Why do you think Paul does not wanting them to wait til he got there to collect the offering?
He had plenty of other work he wanted to do when he got their. Paul would much rather focus on preaching the gospel than gathering funds. He knew what his primary calling was, but he also understood what the church’s responsibility was to care for one another and their capability to do so.
Maybe he didn’t want it to look like he was the one receiving the funds
Maybe he didn’t want the individuals to give impulsively?
He was probably desiring the members of the body, to put an offering aside prayerfully.
Paul has given direction for the collection. Secondly we see Paul describes.

II. Distribution of the Gifts Collected. (3,4)

1 Corinthians 16:3 ESV
And when I arrive, I will send those whom you accredit by letter to carry your gift to Jerusalem.
Paul lets the Corinthian church know, that he wants them to collect this offering as he has directed so that when he arrives they can get the gift distributed.
The first thing he points out about the distribution of the gifts is the,

A. Character of those Handling the Collection

3 And when I arrive, I will send those whom you accredit by letter
The church obviously has selected men who were responsible for oversight of the handling of financial matters of the church. Paul said I will send, those who you accredit by letter.
The term accredit means,

to make a critical examination of someth. to determine genuineness, put to the test, examine

There were men in the church who had been examined by the church. Who they considered trustworthy, genuine, and tested. They were men whom they knew could be counted on to handle the collection for the saints with integrity.
Handling these gifts in the name of the Lord is a serious matter. Of course the Lord owns all things, but when stewardship of the churches funds for the glory of God is at stake this is not something that should be taken lightly.
Therefore, Paul did not want to come get the collection and deliver it himself. He knew he could be trusted but he did not want anyone to be able to question his integrity and accuse him of mishandling of funds.
Evidently the church has sent letters accrediting and affirming certain men of the congregation letting Paul know these are the men we trust. These are the men we have witnessed and affirm they are men of godly character. They have had opportunity to prove they could be entrusted with the care of the collection.
How can we as a church make sure we have men of character in areas of oversight of the church?
Now when we typically hear of a fall of a man of God what are the two things that usually cause the fall?
Infidelity or a lack of Integrity with finances.
Now if the church as accredited these men how are we to ensure that the men we put in positions of oversight, eldership, the office of deacon, a finance committee member (not in the bible) but a helpful way to provide accountability?
Make sure these men are credible. Have they been tested before.
Make sure these men have oversight and accountability.
Make sure these men have show the fruit of the Spirit.
Paul continues to explain these men who have been accredited by the church are also to deliver this gift. He writes, they are,
to carry your gift to Jerusalem.
So Paul was planning on traveling to Corinth, from Ephesus where he was at the time of this writing and once he arrived his plan was to send the collection with these accredited men to Jerusalem. And remember verse 1, who this money was for, the saints.
The early church in Jerusalem was going through a time of financial hardship and struggle and needed help. These men were to carry this gift straight to the church. They were to care for their sister local church.
John Gill explains the need of the church at Jerusalem,

for the poor saints there, who were reduced to poverty, either through the spoiling of their goods by their persecuting countrymen; or through the selling of their possessions, and putting their substance into one common stock, which was now exhausted, partly by their living upon it, and partly by the expending of it for the enlargement of the interest of Christ, and the spread of his Gospel among the Gentiles; so that it was but fit and reasonable that they should assist them in their necessitous circumstances: wherefore the apostle, after he had gone through the various subjects he thought fit to write upon, relating both to doctrine and practice, proceeds to give some orders, directions, and instructions, concerning this matter.

John Calvin explains,

They were at that time weighed down with famine and were being treated cruelly by wicked people. The apostles had given Paul this responsibility to encourage the Gentile churches to provide assistance to them. Therefore he exhorts them to lay aside whatever was in their heart to contribute so that it might be delivered to Jerusalem without delay

Let me give you a modern day example of this. Years ago when the Lord was dealing with me and putting the desire to pastor in my heart I was watching one of the news shows, 48 hours, Dateline or 20/20 and they were talking about the poverty in WV.
The went to a local church and were talking about the financial struggles and they showed their Baptist leaderboard with the attendance, offering etc....
Their weekly offering was something like $2.37. Now I don’t know about you but a church with a $10 monthly budget is going to have a hard time supporting a Pastor who just spent $50 to $100K on his Master of Divinity degree.
Here we are with 3 staff pastors and blessed with men who have spent years growing in their preparation to Pastor our the Lord’s church. How are we to help? What are we to do. I am not saying it is a bad thing for us to have the pastors and resources we have but where is our money going, what are we doing with the resources God has gracefully given us? Are we using them to further our comfort and ease or are we looking for opportunity to share with sister churches in need?
How about us as individuals, this is where each one of us ought to have our toes stomped a little. Are we giving according to the way the Lord prospers us?
The final verse in this paragraph addresses the,

B. Congregational Counsel Concerning the Distribution

4 If it seems advisable that I should go also, they will accompany me.
Paul here puts another principle before the church. He writes if you think it is advisable, worthwhile, or proper that I should take this gift these men who you have accredited will accompany me.
Paul wanted to travel to Jerusalem and deliver this collection to the saints, but he did not want there to be any perceived impropriety with him carrying the gift. He then proposed to the church, look I am willing and available to go, however, I am leaving this up to you. I will not go alone, I will have these men whom you chose to go with me to ensure what you send will be received by the church in Jerusalem.
Throughout this letter, Paul has commended the church at Corinth, he has commanded them to correct some errors in their doctrine, he has counseled them in soul care and in their worship practices, and here he is calling them to collect a gift for their sister church in Jerusalem and to send men along with him to to distribute this gift for the good of the church and the glory of God!
As we consider these 4 verses from 1 Corinthians 16, what are some principles we can take away as a New Testament church?
Here are some of the principles Timothy George gathers from reformation commentators.

almsgiving should be a voluntary act of generosity rather than a mandatory payment of a debt

churches need to discriminate between the deserving poor and lazy freeloaders

Christian workers must avoid all appearance of greed or financial misconduct. Drawing on these principles

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