Now regarding your question about the money being collected for God’s people in Jerusalem. You should follow the same procedure I gave to the churches in Galatia. On the first day of each week, you should each put aside a portion of the money you have earned. Don’t wait until I get there and then try to collect it all at once. When I come, I will write letters of recommendation for the messengers you choose to deliver your gift to Jerusalem. And if it seems appropriate for me to go along, they can travel with me.1 Corinthians 16:1-4
Now Paul addresses the last of the Corinthians’ questions. He has been working his way through them one by one. This is the last one. Again we don’t know specifically what the question was. It would sure help to know. But we do know from his answer that it must been a logistical question because his answer addresses the practicalities of collecting the offering and arranging for its distribution. So Paul tells them do the same as he told the Galatian churches to do. Each Sunday (first day of the week) put aside a portion of the money you earned. Oh so this is the tithe, is it? No, this has nothing to do with tithing. This is a freewill offering for the believers in Jerusalem. It has clearly already been talked about between them and it seems is on going; not just a one off gift. While we don’t know specifically what it is for we can assume it is for the believers in Jerusalem. Clearly they were suffering under the persecution there. There are other references in the letter to the Roman Christians and in the epistle to the Hebrews (see Heb 10:34, Rom 15:26 Rom 15:27). It is clear that the thought is that it was the duty of one Christian congregation to help another when in distress. They needed to collect the money before Paul’s planned visit and then appoint some people to travel with him to take the money to Jerusalem.
There are some inferences that can be made from the text. This procedure was a well established procedure for all church across the Asia Minor area it seems. Meeting on the first day of the week was already an established practice of the churches at this stage in Paul’s ministry. It started initially as the Sabbath when the followers were largely drawn from the synagogue but quickly became established as the Lord’s Day. Each believer was encouraged to give as s/he had the means or as the Lord had blessed him or her. It was in accordance with their sense of burden for their fellow believers and as they felt, not under compulsion. Paul will spell out the principles more clearly in the following letter he wrote to them which I will continue with after 1st Corinthians. Note too the distinction between tithes and free will offerings. In some churches these days there is a clear distinction between the tithe and the offering.
There are free will offerings and there are faith promise offerings and then offerings in faith, i.e. giving beyond your means and then seeing how God will meet your needs after you have given your money away to others.
Free will Offerings: With a free act of will we offer to God or through Him to His servants, money that we have surplus at the time so our surplus can meet their need.
Faith Promise Offerings: Offerings made from money we don’t have but for which we will trust God to provide. When He provides we promise to give the money to a specified need.
Offerings in Faith: Offerings we make before God supplies. This takes the highest level of faith. We might have surplus money designated for a need of our own, which we are willing to sacrifice for the need of another. Or we might not have any surplus money at the time but are willing to cut back on everything and live frugally in order to give a sum of money to someone else even though it may mean we ourselves are “out of pocket”.
I think you can see that these offering types are arranged in order of escalating faith. We think on occasions that if we give our tithe then the rest is ours to do with as we please. Take particular note of the quotes by Robb Thompson and Rick Warren below. Ponder the implications. ANY time you give, God never ceases to return the blessing to you. It is uncanny how the mathematics works. But don’t worry about how it will work out because God is in control of it all and after all He invented mathematics. Just relax and enjoy the ride. We have lived for the last 38 years on gifted income. It boggles the mind of the bankers and the financiers and the tax man. I wondered how on earth we were going to live when I gave up my job teaching in a high school. Now I know first hand how heavenly financing works.
Test it and see if He will not open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing on you that you will not be able to contain.Malachi 3:10
God Must Get Finances THROUGH You Before He Can Ever Get Finances To You.Robb Thompson
God prospers me not to raise my standard of living, but to raise my standard of GIVING.Randy Alcorn
What you think you OWN is really on LOAN. It all belongs to God. You’re just a steward & God is testing you.Rick Warren
You can never out-give God. Try it and see.Ian Vail