CONTRIBUTION OR GIVING
July 1, 1991 Issue
by Richard DeGough
The Church of God is engaged in the greatest mission under heaven. Money is an absolute requisite in carrying on its great work and hence the proper use of money becomes an important theme in the New Testament and assures an important place in the Christian's life. The first sin in the Jerusalem church that we are told of was the sin of Ananias and Sapphira in the matter of giving money to the Lord. (Acts 5:1-2) So, Christians, in making money and giving, must "provide things honest in the sight of all men," as well as glorifying God. Every Christian is a steward of God's things and, therefore, must be faithful as a good steward for we shall one day give account of our stewardship. (I Pet 4:10, I Cor 4:1-2, Rom 14:12)
The Lord has presented a plan for financing the work of the Church in the New Testament scriptures. As in the case of every other plan God has given, it must be put into operation by faithfulness upon the part of Christians. The obligation is an individual one, and is sufficient when it is followed as the New Testament directs us.
The Bible says of the early church, "And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers." (Acts 2:42) This constituted their worship to God on the first day of the week, the "Lord's Day" (Rev 1:10) When the apostolic church met for "breaking bread" on this day (Acts 20:7) it is reasonable to assume that, at that time, they also attended to the fellowship, or contribution, as one of the things the disciples continued in, with the apostles. To confirm the first day of the week being the time for attending to the contribution, we have the apostle Paul (when a certain contribution was to be made for the poor saints in Judea) directing the Corinthians to attend to it on the "first day of the week," that being the day of their assembling to worship. (I Cor. 6-14, Heb 10:25, Acts 20:7)
This was not a one time offering or contribution which ceased, for Paul exhorted them to "perform the doing" of what they had begun the year before. (II Cor 8:10-11) In other words the collection for the saints was to be done on each first day of the week. MacKnight renders it, "On the first day of every week let each of you lay somewhat by itself, according as he may have prospered, putting it into the treasury...." (new translation, I Cor 16:2) Again, they "continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship..." (Acts 2:42)
THE MANNER OF GIVING
First, giving is personal. Paul said, "Let everyone of you lay by him in store..." This responsibility is given to every Christian. Jesus said, "Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom..." Again, "...it is more blessed to give than to receive" (Luke 6:38, Acts 20:35) The question arises, How much should I give? Paul gave some guidelines to the Corinthians, saying, "Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give..." and, to give "...as God hath prospered him." (II Cor 9:7, I Cor 16:2) Unlike Israel of old, we are not under the law of tithing. This was determined by a percentage required of them to give to the Lord what is justly his. In Malachi 3:8-9 God accused Israel of robbing him in "tithes and offerings." May we consider that things written aforetime were for our learning. (Rom 15:4) Paul said, "for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." Again, "...he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully." (Gal 6:7,11 Cor 9:6) Our giving is the free will offering of a willing heart and an open hand, "not grudgingly nor of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver." (II Cor 9:7)
MOTIVE FOR GIVING
First, the heart is the motivator in our giving. Paul said, "For if there first be a willing mind,..." Of the Macedonians Paul said, "...but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God." This is impressive when we consider those Christians were in deep poverty and affliction that "abounded unto the riches of their liberality." (II Cor 8:2-5,12) But, the greatest motive for giving is the sacrifice that Jesus our Lord made for us, "...that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich." (II Cor 8:9) Surely this will stimulate us to give freely of our means, and of ourselves, as a living sacrifice. (Rom 12:1)
THE PURPOSE FOR GIVING
First, Paul's order to the churches of Galatia, Macedonia and Achaia concerning the collection for the poor saints in Judea, was to give relief to those Christians. While the church was in her infancy there were those in need. The faithful who had possessions sold them and met that need. (Acts 2:44-45, 4:34-35, I Jno 3:17-18) Another need arose because of a great dearth throughout the world, and that need of the brethren in Judea was met by the disciples. There is no indication that the contribution, the "laying by in store" ordered by Paul to the churches was ever used for the world. It was a collection of the saints for the saints. (I Cor 16:1-2)
Second, the preaching of the gospel was supported by the church. The responsibility to preach the gospel is given to the church. (Eph 3:10, I Tim 3:15) Paul said, "Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel." (I Cor 9:14) When Paul was at Corinth preaching, other churches supported him. (II Cor 11:7-9) While in Thessalonica the church at Phillipi met his needs. (Phil 4:14-17) May every Christian give liberally, and ever be ready unto every good work. To "do good and to communicate," remembering that with such sacrifices God is well pleased. (Heb 13:16).
Richard DeGough 1991 OPA Main Page HOME