Devotional Mar. 16th, 2020

They Gave Themselves to God

Monday, March 16th – 1st Corinthians 16:1-2 (TLB)

“Now here are the directions about the money you are collecting to send to the Christians in Jerusalem; (and, by the way, these are the same directions I gave to the churches in Galatia).  On every Lord’s Day each of you should put aside something from what you have earned during the week, and use it for this offering. The amount depends on how much the Lord has helped you earn. Don’t wait until I get there and then try to collect it all at once.”

This isn’t a “tithe”. The purpose of the tithe is to support the on-going ministry needs of the local church. According to DJ Downs “The collection in 2 Corinthians”, when Paul wrote of the “collection” he used a word associated with an irregular tax or contribution of money for some charitable or sacred purpose. In this case specifically for “the poor” in Jerusalem, mentioned also in Galatians 2:10 and Acts 24-17, who were suffering famine. Paul’s purpose was to not only help financially but to demonstrate unity among the Gentile and Jewish churches. Paul instructed the community – most of whom had little to spare – to set aside for the project whatever money they could afford on a regular basis. In this way, they would be able to raise more money than relying on a one time collection (Oxford Biblical Studies). The entire body was able to join with Paul, expanding their impact on the Gospel, investing in the future of the Christian faith, and creating a legacy across the known world. Paul gave easily repeatable instructions: Each person or household is to give whatever they have settled in their heart (as the Holy Spirit leads), to give from their own income, and to set it aside regularly for the cause. No guilt, no coercion. Clear, simple, effective. This type of individual giving has been growing the church for literally thousands of years building churches, supporting missionaries, building Christian schools, and all manner of projects throughout history.
When our son was young I was fond of saying to my wife, “I can’t wait until he’s a teen so we can go do this or that.” She floored me one day saying “What are you doing now to ensure he’s going to want to be around you when that day comes?” Ouch. Needless to say I began putting things into action to promote the future I had in mind. We’ve belonged to this church a long time and we love our church and fellow saints. But have I been putting things into action to promote the future of the church? If I’m honest I’d say I’ve been practicing to keep her “safe”. But have we been practicing for her to grow up? Not so much. Ouch again. I’m a process guy, probably most men are. Here’s an opportunity to use Paul’s clear, simple, effective plan to make a change. Not all at once, but over time. Thanks Paul.

Father God, thank you for your word and for all it can reveal if we really look. Thank you for the hearts of service for the early church to be obedient unto Christ. Help us all to serve your kingdom and expand your church, to help her grow up and become what you have called her to be in the visions and actions you have born in your people.
– Kevin Deuvall