Giving can be a tough subject to discuss, and particularly at the moment with all the other issues going on in the world. However, a Christian who does not give is like a Christian who does not pray. Christians should be generous givers.
There are many individuals and groups struggling because of the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown. Churches are not immune to this, and I am conscious that many churches will see a large drop in gifts and offering to them. Churches depend on this giving, and so I want to encourage you today to not stop your giving just because you can’t physically be there.
Of course, if you have lost income because of the virus and its restrictions, then you must change your giving accordingly. No one expects you to be able to continue giving based on an income you no longer receive!
Let’s see what the Bible says, and do a short study of this passage from 1 Corinthians.
Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I commanded the assemblies of Galatia, you do likewise. 2 On the first day of every week, let each one of you save, as he may prosper, that no collections are made when I come. 3 When I arrive, I will send whoever you approve with letters to carry your gracious gift to Jerusalem
1 Corinthians 16:1-3 (WEB)
Paul, writing to the Corinthian church, gives some basic instructions about their giving to the work of the saints. He gave the same instructions to the churches of Galatia, and so I think we can apply it to our own church as well.
On “the first day of the week,” which was a Sunday, the people of the church should set aside the amount of money they wish to give. I believe that Paul chose the first day of the week for a reason. He wanted them to put God, and the offering to the work of the church, at the top of their priorities.
For many of us, giving is something of an afterthought. We arrive at church, rush in during the worship, and then scrabble around our pockets or purses to find a few coins to toss into the offering basket. This is not the way to give in a way that honours God.
Rather, Paul is encouraging them to prepare for giving, to pray about it, and to save the money in advance. In a similar way, we should be setting aside the money we want to give to our church and do that at the top of our budget. We should give first, then save, and finally spend.
Now we are not meeting together, we should not simply forget to give at all. We should be setting aside that money as before. If you can give by online means, then you can continue to give like that. If that is not an option for you, you can still save that money ready for when you can meet again.
Another version of the Bible translates verse two like this:
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.
1 Corinthians 16:2 (NLT)
This is perhaps much clearer than the WEB version above. What Paul is saying is that we should give according to our means. Those who have more, should give more, and those who have less should give less. When Paul wrote these words, there were no set salaries like we have, and people’s income fluctuated depending on their trade. We tend to be paid the same amount each week or month in a salaried role, so it’s a little easier to manage our giving.
Those who are self-employed or who do not have a steady income can give depending on how much they have earned that period. Those impacted by COVID-19 may have had their salaries cut drastically, or may have even lost their jobs. Paul is telling us to give in accordance with what we have earned.
There is a lot more we could say about giving, but let me repeat my main point today. Don’t give up your giving. Just because you cannot be together as a church does not mean they no longer need your gifts. Pastors and ministers still need their wages, bills still need to be paid, and churches depend on its members.
Be a generous giver, especially in these difficult times. Churches want to be there to help those in need, but without your support, they cannot keep going let alone help others.