It’s hard to believe we are nearing the end of our study on 1 Corinthians! By the time we are done, it will have been 25 total messages on many different subjects: Easter, sexual abuse, spiritual gifts, temptation, marriage, divorce, singleness, etc. As we look at the beginning of chapter 16, we will read Paul’s instructions to the churches concerning the offering. Giving is an act of worship. We prayerfully consider all that God has given to us and we thank and honor Him through our generosity.
It is a Priority
“Now concerning the collection…on the first day of the week…” (v. 1-2). Notice the word “first.” God must be first. He cannot be second. I always encourage the “first principle”: Give God the first hour of every day (devotions), the first day of every week (Sunday worship), and the first dime of every dollar (tithe). Have you ever buttoned up your shirt only to get to the bottom and realize you were off? When you get the first button right all the other buttons fall into place. It’s like that with the Lord. If God is not first in your life, everything is out of order. It’s not that God won’t be second, it’s that He can’t. God cannot lie, He cannot change, and He cannot be second. Remember the offerings Cain and Abel brought? God accepted Abel’s, but he rejected Cain’s. Why? Abel brought the firstborn. Cain brought some of his crop, but not the firstfruits. Jesus is to be preeminent in all things. He is the firstborn of creation. He is first in the universe. When we live a biblical lifestyle of generosity we are saying, “Jesus is Lord.” It is not what I have to do, it is what I get to do and want to do.
It is Personal
The second part of verse 2 says, “…let each one of you….” The instructions are personal. They apply to each one of us individually. One day you will stand before the Lord alone. I will too. We will be accountable for all that we did on this earth. So many people are living under financial pressure, struggling to make ends meet. They live with debt, stress, and fear. Insanity is when you keep doing the same things expecting a different outcome. Get on top of your finances, your circumstances, and your life! Put God first and see how He will provide. The church is designed such that every member does their part. There are so many who claim to be part of the family, they claim to be a child of God, but they give nothing. We do not want something from you, we want something for you. When God welcomes you to heaven, you don’t want to have nothing to show for your life. Make sure you are giving what God asks and make sure your giving is such that it affects your heart.
It is a Percentage
Paul says that each person should give “as he may prosper” (v. 2). Giving is proportional. Not everyone will give the same amount. In Malachi 3 there is clear instruction about tithes and offerings. Verse 8 says we rob God when we do not regularly tithe. Do you want your spouse to be faithful to you occasionally or regularly? In the same way, God wants us to be faithful always. A tithe is the first tenth. You can’t tithe 5% or 20% because tithing is a tenth. Salvation is not based on tithing; the way to heaven is Jesus, not works! But, we honor God and are faithful to Him by giving him our best, our first. Don’t pay your bills and give God the leftovers. It takes faith to tithe and without faith it is impossible to please God. In Malachi 3:10, the Lord says, “…try me now in this….” Why not try it? God has proven Himself faithful over and over again. Let Him prove Himself in your life.
Where are you in your giving? Wherever you are, I encourage you to take the next step. If you’ve never given, start. If you tithe, start giving above the tithe (offerings). God doesn’t need your money. He’s not raising money. He’s raising disciples. He wants your heart, your life. He wants you to trust Him and to put Him first. “…And try Me now in this,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it” (Mal. 3:10).