Now about the collection for God'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 his 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. - I Corinthians 16:1-3 (NIV)
I have done some figuring. If I had in my pocket what I have given to the Lord’s work over the years I could:
- Pay cash for a nice piece of property.
- Pay cash for new car, truck, boat or even that Honda Gold Wing motorcycle that I have had my eye on for some time!
- Pay cash for both of my children’s college and buy them a new car to drive off to school.
But, I don’t do those things. Why? Because my wife Debbie and I have learned over the years a few things about giving to the Lord’s work:
- We can live much better on 90% than we can on 100%!
- Then we learned we could live better on 85% than we can on 100%!
- Then we learned we could live better on 80% than we can on 100%!
- We have also learned the joy of making an eternal investment by giving to the Lord's work!
There is one Biblical principle that is often overlooked in our materialistic world today: we, as Christians, are “stewards!”
That’s a Biblical word that means “caretaker.” A steward does not own a thing; he simply manages the possessions of another. In our case as Christians, we simply understand that God owns it all and we are simply caring for His possessions! All that we have: our possessions, our abilities, our energy, our time and our talents belong to the Lord! Therefore, we should not be offended when He directs us on how to use what is His.
God’s Word, the Bible, has a lot to say about money.
In Matthew, Mark, and Luke one out of every six verses deals with money.
Of the twenty-nine parables told by Christ, sixteen of them deal with a person and his money.
The Bible has a lot to say about generous giving as well.
Allow me to share with you six biblical lessons about giving:
1. Giving is a universal practice.
Paul said this was not just for the believers in Corinth, but for the churches of Galatia also! Jesus said in Matthew 10:8, “Freely you have received, freely give.” Because every believer has received so much from the Lord, every believer should give back to the work of the Lord.
2. Giving is to be a weekly practice.
Paul said that we are to give on the “first day of the week.” Early Jewish believers moved their day of worship from Saturday to Sunday to commemorate the resurrection of the Lord. Therefore, Paul said to give on that day of the week. We are not to give spasmodically, or when we feel that we can afford to give. The bible indicates that giving is to be a part of our weekly worship!
3. Giving is to be a personal act.
I Corinthians 16:2 says, "Let each one of you…” Giving is not just for the comfortable and the wealthy—everyone should give—even kids! Why? Because giving is part of our worship to God.
4. Giving is to be a predetermined plan.
I Corinthians 16:2 says, " Set aside a sum of money.” There are many people that give because of emotional appeals or special needs. There are many that give a little week-by-week, almost like tipping the waitress at a restaurant. But God wants us to have a predetermined systematic amount that we intentionally bring to worship to give to the Lord. Waiting until Sunday to see what is left over IS NOT taught in the bible.
5. Giving is to be a proportioned amount.
I Corinthians 16:2 says, " Set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income.” We are to give in proportion to what we receive. We are never to give equal gifts, but we are told in Scripture to make equal sacrifices!
6. Giving is to be handled responsibly.
I Corinthians 16:3, Paul says, “I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem. The church at Corinth was to certify trustworthy people to handle the money. We are to give sacrificially, then we are to handle God’s money responsibly and efficiently.
In closing, let us evaluate our lives in the area of our “giving.” Ask yourself these question:
Is my giving pleasing to the Lord?
Is He being honored and glorified with my management of His finances?
Do I really believe that God owns it all?
Am I being a good and faithful steward in the areas of my finances?