Today we finish our series in 1 Corinthians. Over the past several weeks we have focused on being United as a Church.

United in Christ’s death as we celebrate the Lord’s Supper.

United in our serving as we use our gifts to build up the church.

United in our love for one another.

United in our service as we gather together in orderly worship.

United in Christ’s resurrection as we contemplate all that means for us.

And today we come to chapter 16

United in our giving.

Giving is one of those personal topics. The kind of topic that could be very controversial, or even seem self serving. If this is your first time here a topic like this might even offend you a bit. But let me put your concerns at ease this morning. At City Church we value the Word of God and we allow it to dictate to us what we talk about and so we come with full confidence in His Word this morning, knowing that Paul could have ended with chapter 15, what a beautiful ending..as you have scaled the mountain to discover what Church is all about we could have just rested at the pinnacle of the resurrection. But this is not what the text does, it goes on to talk about how the church is to be a giving church, and so we go on this morning as well to talk about what it means to be united in our giving.

1 Corinthians 16:1-11

Now concerning the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. 2 On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come. 3 And when I arrive, I will send those whom you accredit by letter to carry your gift to Jerusalem. 4 If it seems advisable that I should go also, they will accompany me.

5 I will visit you after passing through Macedonia, for I intend to pass through Macedonia, 6 and perhaps I will stay with you or even spend the winter, so that you may help me on my journey, wherever I go. 7 For I do not want to see you now just in passing. I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits. 8 But I will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, 9 for a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.

10 When Timothy comes, see that you put him at ease among you, for he is doing the work of the Lord, as I am. 11 So let no one despise him. Help him on his way in peace, that he may return to me, for I am expecting him with the brothers.

The first thing we should notice from the text is the:

1. Principles of Giving. v. 1

As I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do.

This is more than just a message to the people of Corinth. The same instruction was given to not the church in Galatia, but the churches of Galatia. In other words, the teaching here is something that the churches were instructed in, And so this instruction comes to us as well. The Bible has much to say about giving and this is only one section in one portion of scripture. But the principles found here are among the best in all of scripture. What are those principles?

First of all your giving should be:

A. Regular. v. 2

On the first day of every week,

Why does Paul tell the churches to set aside money on the first day of the week? He has seven to choose from, why the first day? Why not Tuesday or Friday? And why every week? Why not once a month or once a year?

The first day of the week is the Sabbath. It’s the day God’s people gather together for corporate worship. In other words, Paul wants the church to know that giving isn’t something separate from the corporate worship of the church. We can treat it like that. We can see it as an inconvenience, even as we plan out the church service we can see it as something we have to stick in somewhere because it has to be done, but look at it as a necessary evil that interrupts real worship.

But this isn’t God’s thinking at all! On the first day of the week…when you gather for corporate worship, set something aside.

Giving is an act of worship and worship should never be sporadic. If only think about giving once a year, then you are missing out on the regular blessings of giving. Do you believe it is more blessed to give than to receive? Then give often. Can you imagine what would happen to your spiritual life if you treated Bible Study or Worship or Preaching like like a once a year event? Imagine you calculate the number of worship songs you would sing in a year at church and decide to skip the weekly worship service but just save it up for some mega worship experience at the end of the year.

You miss the whole point of singing. It’s the regular act of singing that calibrates our heart toward Christ. And it’s the regular act of giving that calibrates our heart away from the Kingdom of the Earth and all the temptations for things that are passing away in order to reorient our hearts toward a better Kingdom, the Kingdom of God.

Every time you give you are planting your heart in the soil of Christ and asking him to bloom greater affection toward Jesus. Do you feel the tug? Do you sense that old self wanting to rise up and take possession of the temporal? The cure to this is through regular giving.

Now let me give a bit of clarity here: There are many ways to give. Some of you might be old school and bring cash to church and give every week. Some of you may be more digitally inclined and prefer to give through WeChat (when it’s working). And that giving may be every two weeks. Some of you may be planners and you may be like my wife who sets up automatic giving through our bank and this may come once a month. And I think all are fine…But here’s the principle: you don’t think on it only once a month. You don’t treat it as a bill to be paid. No, even if you give through some other means, each week as the giving is collected it is an opportunity for you to reflect on your giving, to pray over that which will be given. To examine your own heart in relation to your giving. In other words, it’s an opportunity to weekly worship through your giving, even if the physical act isn’t carried out weekly.1

Secondly, your giving should be:

B. Universal. v. 2

On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up.

Who is to give? Everyone! Are you rich? You should give. Are you poor? You should give2. Are you a new Christian? You should give. Are you a mature, seasoned Christian? You should give. Do you have student loans? You should give. Are you debt free? You should give. Do you have a mortgage? You should give. Are you in retirement? You should give. Are you a college student without a job? You should give. Do you have a family with financial obligations and are you concerned about the future, how you will make ends meet? You should give. The church at Corinth had all types of people and Paul doesn’t exclude ANY ONE OF THEM!

Here’s the truth: If you don’t give when you have little, you most likely won’t give when you have much! And remember, giving is worship and why would we limit worship to a certain group of people? No, all are called upon to give.

Parent’s the earlier you teach your children to be cheerful givers the more likely it will become a regular part of who they are. Help them not just to give the money from your pockets, but to begin to give from whatever little amount they receive from a birthday or New Year’s or some other special holiday.

Thirdly, your giving should be:

C. Strategic. v. 2

2 On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up

Why does he say put something aside…store it up? Because he knows that most people aren’t like me. I’m one of the cheapest persons you’ll ever meet. When I was first married I had a church member buy me shoes because she got tired of seeing me preach in shoes that were held together by duct tape. It hurts me to spend money. But most people aren’t like that. For most people spending is natural, it’s so natural that they spend it without even realizing it.

Here’s John Wesley’s money strategy: “Having, First, gained all you can, and, Secondly saved all you can, Then give all you can.”

We are called to be good stewards with our money, this doesn’t just happen, we have to be intentional. We have to commit to work and make money…you can’t put aside what you don’t have. We have to use that dreaded B Word…Budget. We have to commit to save up that money. We have to set money aside so that it doesn’t get spent. I have to intentionally not have money in my wechat account, because as cheap as I am I find it’s ten times easier to waste money that way. And then we have to actually give it away.

When you become strategic with your money your giving will increase. Paul didn’t want to take up an offering when he arrived Look at v. 2: so that there will be no collecting when I come.

Rather he insisted they set aside something each week, because if he had just showed up and taken an offering there would have been many who had nothing, but by instructing them to set aside a little each week, when he comes, everyone has something to give. This is HOW everyone can give…be strategic with your finances.

And let me say this, there is strategy in unified giving. Yes, you should constantly be giving throughout the week. There are a million little opportunities to give: a meal out with a friend, food for someone on the street who is hungry, a gift here or there to show appreciation for those in your life, a friend who has a pressing financial need.

But let’s not neglect the strategy of unified giving. We can do more together than we can separately. There’s a synergy when we pool our resources to do something we couldn’t do by ourselves. This is exactly what’s going on here. The churches are coming together with their finances to meet a need that one individual alone couldn’t meet, that one church alone couldn’t meet. This is what happens each week as we are unified in our giving…we are accomplishing more together than we could separately.

Fourthly, your giving should be:

D. Proportionate. v. 2

2 On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper,

I’m going to say something that will shock some of you: Paul does not prescribe a tithe here. He says: put SOMETHING aside. The Old Testament is full of verses that command a tenth, but those commands disappear in the New Testament. There isn’t an emphasis on tithing in the New Testament. Jesus mentions it twice as he condemns the Pharsiees, Paul never uses it, Hebrews uses it once to show that Jesus is like Malchizedek. And that’s it.

It’s not there…but giving is! And Christ is!

And as one pastor has remarked: “Everything is greater with Christ. Why wouldn’t giving be greater? We have better promises, a better covenant…why wouldn’t there be better sacrifice, better giving?3

I think for most of us, a tithe is a good place to start. But let’s not stop there. Let’s not be a people that say in our hearts, you get ten percent and I get ninety…no He gets it all!

There are a great many people who are giving a tenth (as the Pharisees did) and feeling pretty good about themselves when in reality their giving is quite meager.

As your finances increase you have more opportunity to give. More opportunity to show the world where your heart is – for where your treasure is there your heart will be also.

Listen again to what the text says: as he may prosper,

I am challenged by John Wesley in this matter:

He recounts a personal experience that transformed the way he viewed money:

He had just finished buying some pictures for his room when one of the chambermaids came to his door. It was a winter day and he noticed that she had only a thin linen gown to wear for protection against the cold. He reached into his pocket to give her some money for a coat, and found he had little left. He asked himself: “Will my Master say, ‘Well done, good and faithful steward?’ You have adorned your walls with the money that might have screened this poor creature from the cold! O justice! O mercy! Are not these pictures the blood of this poor maid?”4

It was this incident that convinced him to give “as he may prosper.” He recorded that one year his income was £30, and his living expenses £28, so he had £2 to give awayas he may prosper. The next year, his income doubled, but he still lived on £28 and gave away £32as he may prosper. In the third year, his income jumped to £90; again he lived on £28, giving away £62as he may prosper. The fourth year, he made £120, lived again on £28, and gave away £92as he may prosper. One year his income was slightly over £1,400; he gave away all but £30…He took seriously the scripture: as he may prosper.

Randy AlcornThe Christian community should be filled with people who set a cap on their lifestyles, giving away everything above that amount.

2 Corinthians 9:11 – You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way.

Fifthly, your giving should be:

E. Responsible. v. 3

3 And when I arrive, I will send those whom you accredit by letter to carry your gift to Jerusalem.

Responsible giving is Transparent giving – The church at Corinth was to give the money to trustworthy people who would in turn carry it to Jerusalem. They were to be traveling on the road where there was much danger. There’s always danger with money! Not just from without, but more often from within.

Hebrews 13:5Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have.

City Church seeks to be responsible with the money entrusted to us. This is why you will see a deacon standing over here to collect the money and carry it to the finance department to be counted. This is why you will see an usher go over with the deacon and stay in the room as the finance office counts the money. This is why we give quarterly updates about our finances. We want transparency in all things. We want accountability in all things.

Just as the church is to be accountable in giving, so too is the individual member.

Luke 12:15 “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

Do you take care with your money? Are you on guard with your money? Are there people in your life who can speak into your finances? Have you submitted yourself to another and given them permission to ask you hard, uncomfortable questions about how you steward your money? Are you the type of person that the church in Corinth would trust and accredit by letter?

Responsible giving is Involved giving – It’s more than just being careful with your money or being accountable with your money, but the text informs us that they had a really important job, they were to carry that gift to Jerusalem. Do you see what they had the privileged of doing? They were to go to Jerusalem and meet those to whom they are giving to. They were not just to give them money, but to greet them with a holy kiss, pray with them and for them, share stories about how the community in Corinth is rallying around them, perhaps send personal notes from real people to real people. And then they were to come back and share their stories about what they saw and heard and experienced.

It is a call to hear names and not just numbers, to see faces and not just figures when you give. Our giving is always to move us past an action of pocket to plate to head and heart. We are to think often of those to whom we give…pray for them, support them in other ways if possible. Life life with them.

When Paul refers to the collection, he calls it the koinōnia. And the word koinōnia means – what? – fellowship. You cannot share money without sharing fellowship.5

For a few moments let us move on from the principles of giving to the:

2. People of our Giving

Who should we give to?

Firstly, we are to give to:

A. Those in Need. v. 1

Now concerning the collection for the saints.

This text doesn’t say the poor or the needy, so why do I label it as such? Because that’s who they are giving to:

Rom. 15:25-27At present, however, I am going to Jerusalem bringing aid to the saints. 26 For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make some contribution for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem. 27 For they were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them.

Jerusalem was full of poor people. The synagogues in Jerusalem tried to care for the poor among them, but to become a Christian was to get your name taken out of the Jewish “welfare” system. Christians were kicked out of the Synagogue, they were outcasts, and the poor among them were no longer able to get any benefits from the Jewish community.

And so the churches gave! There was a real need and the churches gave! Paul went as far as to say that the Christians in Macedonia (who were also poor) OWED it to them to give.

Jame’s admonition to Paul as he went out to plant churches among the Gentiles was to: Galatians 2:10 remember the poor.

Your giving does just this! City Church takes a portion of your giving and spends it specifically on those who have needs. Your giving in 2019 has helped over 20 students go to Youth Camp. It’s allowed children to go to VBS. It’s helped single mothers in need feed, clothe, and provide shelter for themselves and their children. It’s helped those with unexpected medical expenses, buying medicine, ensuring surgery takes place. It’s helped support multiples refugees and asylum seekers. It’s helped provide counseling for those in need of professional counseling. It’s clothed and provided heat for orphans.

This year is only half over and yet you have done so much…rejoice knowing that your giving is not in vain!

Secondly, we are to give to:

B. Those involved in Mission. v. 5-6

5 I will visit you after passing through Macedonia, for I intend to pass through Macedonia, 6 and perhaps I will stay with you or even spend the winter, so that you may help me on my journey, wherever I go.

Paul didn’t receive money from Corinth when he was with them, He makes this plain in 1 Cor. 9…but now he has asked them to give to him, Why? Because this is a way in which they can participate in the work of Missions.

I had a good friend that would often carry my family out to eat or give us gifts and if we refused she would always retort: Don’t steal my blessing!

This is what Paul is getting at here. I want to give you an opportunity to give to the work of church planting and missions so I don’t steal your blessing. Again, we either believe that verse or not…it is a BLESSING to give.

When it comes to missions there are goers and there are senders and if you’ve not been called to go you have been called to help send the goers on their way. Missions is at the heart of the church because it is at the heart of God. God is a global God and there are many places in the world that have yet to hear the gospel. There are many people in the world who have yet to hear the gospel. City Church is a church that loves missions. We are FROM the City! We have a passion to send people from Beijing to the Nations.

Your giving does just this! A portion of your giving is set aside for the expressed purpose of “making impact.”

Your giving has sent people to Scotland, the Middle East, Switzerland, South Africa, Russia, Singapore, Uganda, and Malaysia. It’s partnering with Pastor Paul and his family as they have now moved to Boulder, Colorado. It’s sent people or is sending people to places, for security purposes, I can’t even share with you…hard to reach places, Creative Access Nations, least reached people groups. It’s trained pastors and equipped young church leaders. It’s funded youth curriculums and Bible studies. It’s done SO much. This side of heaven you’ll never know how much your giving has done and what great impact your giving has made in the Kingdom.

This year is only half over and yet you have done so much in regard to missions…rejoice knowing that your giving is not in vain!

Thirdly, we are to give to:

C. Those who care for your soul – v. 10-11

10 When Timothy comes, see that you put him at ease among you, for he is doing the work of the Lord, as I am. 11 So let no one despise him. Help him on his way in peace, that he may return to me, for I am expecting him with the brothers.

Why was Timothy going to Corinth? To shepherd the people there.

1 Cor. 4:17That is why I sent you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in every church.

All throughout the Bible there is this command to care for those who keep spiritual watch over you.

Look at:

Galatians 6:6 as an example Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches.

We are to give money that can be used not just to meet other’s physical needs, but to meet our own spiritual needs as well.

When you give at City Church, some of it will go to meet the needs of people who don’t have what they need, some of it will go to speed the gospel on its way, and some of it will come right back to you to give you spiritual care.

Your giving provides rent for this place and the church offices which isn’t just used as office space but used by small groups, alpha groups, women’s groups, men’s groups, the Embassy daytime, the Embassy Thursday evening service, Undone, KidCity where Children are taught to love Jesus, the youth services where teens are challenged to make their faith real and active, it’s where baptisms take place, and discipleship takes place, and worship takes place, and counseling takes place, ministry teaching and equipping takes place, and prayer takes place…we have a whole room dedicated just for that. It provides opportunities for you to grow spiritually.

How do you respond to a message like this:

Start giving

Start giving well

Continue giving

Increase your giving

Stir up a spirit of giving

May we be a people who are united in our giving for the glory of God!

1Corinth was dealing with physical money as opposed to the digital world we live in, thus the mode of giving might look differently.

2See 1 Cor. 11:21, 2 Cor. 8:2

3John Piper

4https://www.epm.org/blog/2014/May/14/john-wesley-giving

5John MacArthur

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