By James Pilgrim
Churches of Christ seek to restore the New Testament pattern in giving. We are to do “all in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Colossians 3:17), that is, at his direction, because he told us to do so. We must neither add to nor subtract from his word (Compare Revelation 22:18,19). Let us therefore see what Jesus has directed us to do with our goods.
PURPOSE TO GIVE
The church of God in Corinth (2 Corinthians1:1) was told to purpose in their hearts to give (2 Corinthians 9:7). Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, p. 820, says the word “purpose” means “to choose for oneself, before another thing (prefer), i.e. (by impl.) to propose (intend).” To purpose therefore is to willingly pre-determine what we will give, rather than haphazardly giving.
EACH ONE WHO PROSPERS
“Every one” who prospers is to “lay by him in store” (1 Cor. 16:2). The rich, middle class, and poor who prosper are directed by Jesus to give. Each Christian is to carry his/her part of the load (cf. 2 Cor. 8:13-15). Such was the case in Mark 12:41-44, though the poor widow was proportionately carrying the greater part of the load. Jesus praised her.
Those who give are not to give “grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7). “Cheerful” is from the Greek word HILAROS, meaning, “…readiness of mind…joyousness… cheerful (Eng. hilarious)…’to cause to shine'” (Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, Vol. I, A-D, p. 184). Christians are glad rather than sad to give to the Lord. They are willing contributors rather than reluctant givers who contribute because they are obligated to do so.
The inspired word of God (2 Tim. 3:16,17) instructs us to give according to our prosperity (1 Cor. 16:1,2). Much is required of those to whom much is given (cf. Luke 12:48). One’s giving will vary according to one’s salary. The more one makes the more one is required to give. If you are still giving what you did before your last raise(s), and if you were properly giving then, you cannot now be giving according to your prosperity. Giving according to one’s prosperity means giving according to the number of pay checks one has received. Fifty-two pay checks means fifty-two contributions, not fifty-one or less. Fewer than fifty-two would be giving less than one had prospered. It would be robbing God (cf. Malachi 3:8-10). Christians are to give bountifully if they expect to reap bountifully (2 Cor. 9:6; Luke 6:38; Matthew 6:33). Those who sow sparingly will reap sparingly. Romans 12:8 says those who give (i.e., impart) are to do so with simplicity (i.e., liberality). Examples of God-approved givers are the Macedonians who gave beyond their power (2 Cor. 8:1-4), and the poor widow of Mark 12:41-44. God gave his only begotten Son (John 3:16). Jesus gave his life a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).
FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK
The order Paul gave the churches of Galatia and the Corinthian Church for the collection was “upon the first day of the week” (1Cor. 16:1,2). Thus “the first day of the week” is God’s pattern for the collection, not daily as some do in revivals, or through suppers, lotteries and rummage sales, or from begging friends and businesses. We also learn that the collection is to be taken EVERY week. “The first day of the week” comes around every week. The language is the same as that in Acts 20:7, and means the same – every week. We understand a banker to mean every month when he uses similar language. For example: He may say, “The note is payable upon the first day of the month.” We understand him to mean each month. Too, the article “the” before week in 1 Corinthians 16:2 is from the Greek word KATA, meaning and elsewhere translated “every” (cf. Acts 14:23). Those converted on the day of Pentecost continued steadfastly in the “fellowship” (Greek, KOINONIA, also translated “contribution;” cf. Acts 2:42 and Romans 15:26).
We are not to be covetous (Col. 3:5). Neither are we to lay up treasures upon earth, but in heaven (Matt. 6:19-21). We are not to give to be seen of men, else we will receive no reward (Mat. 6:1-4). We are not to give grudgingly or of necessity (2 Cor. 9:6). We are not to sow sparingly (2 Cor. 9:7). Neither are we to give God the scraps (what is left over), but the firstfruits of our labors (Matt.6:33). We figure our taxes on our gross income, yet many want to give to God based upon less than their net income, or what is left after taxes, rent, food, and such like have been deducted. That is not giving according to one’s prosperity. It is not in harmony with the song we sometimes sing. GIVE OF YOUR BEST TO THE MASTER.
“It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). Giving is a grace (2 Cor. 8:1-7), which proves one’s love (2 Cor. 8:8,9). It is a sin to know to give, but not do so (James 4:17). Let us be faithful to God to do what he has outlined, and content neither to add to nor subtract from his word. Let us do as God has directed, as did Noah: “According to all that God commanded him, so did he” (Genesis 6:22). May we give liberally so that the saving gospel (good news, Rom 10:13-14) of Jesus Christ may be preached to the lost of every nation (Mark 16:15,16; Matt. 28:19), taught to the saved (1 Cor. 14:12; Matt. 28:20), and the destitute may be relieved (Gal. 1:2; 6:10).
How do we determine what to do in all matters?
What does it mean to purpose?
Who is to lay by him in store?
Discuss the Christian’s attitude toward giving.
How much are Christians to give?
When are Christians to give?
What was said negatively about giving?
Where does the Bible teach us to have lotteries, rummage sales, and beg our friends and businesses to raise funds for the Lord’s work?
Am I giving as I should in the manner, attitude and amount?