Now about the collection for the Lord’s people: do what I told the Galatian churches to do. On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made. Then, when I arrive, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem. If it seems advisable for me to go also, they will accompany me.
Looking back on this letter to Corinth, Paul needed to rebuke and correct the believers about their wrong doctrine. Their selfish pride had led to a misunderstanding of the gospel, disunity, immorality, abuse of the Lord’s Supper and misuse of spiritual gifts. They were living for the moment without the perspective of eternity. They did not realise that this life is the prelude to resurrection and being united with Christ for ever.
Paul finally challenged them to give to other believers they had never met. The church in Jerusalem was suffering from a famine (Acts 11:28) and from ongoing persecution (Acts 8:1). Under those circumstances food was in short supply and expensive. The church had been scattered and breadwinners may have had to move away. Paul understood their plight; indeed one of his first ministry responsibilities was to courier a gift from Antioch to Jerusalem (Acts 11:29).
Giving is a personal and practical decision. In view of the Corinthian’s dysfunctional church life, Paul gave specific practical instructions. The money was to be given by each believer when they met for worship each Sunday. The amount should be a generous proportion of their income for that week (2 Corinthians 9:6-7) as a part of their worship. The implication is that it would be given into a weekly collection and kept secure until Titus arrived. He would be a trustee, helping them to account for what had been given and to courier the money to Jerusalem with Paul (2 Corinthians 8:16-21) . Paul did not want any collection made when he visited, to avoid any suggestion that he was personally profiting from the gifts.
Giving is the greatest antidote to selfishness. Social action is not the gospel (the good news of salvation) but it validates the gospel. It reflects the transformed mind of the giver and is welcomed as a fellowship offering by the receiver (Leviticus 7:28-34; 10:14). Many gifts are never made because the would-be giver lacks the motivation and discipline. Paul’s practical instructions are still wise. When did you last review your giving to the Lord? How do you decide who to give to? What financial discipline do you have in place to ensure that you regularly remove money for the Lord’s use, from your personal fund, before it can be spent on other things? Practical decisions are essential to enable the Lord’s work.
Gracious Father. Thank You for all You have given to me: Your love, salvation and the promise of eternity with You. I am sorry for not being diligent about giving away a generous proportion of what You have given to me. Please help me to decide to be a giver, and then to take practical steps to give my time and energy, possessions and money. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.