Given the danger of the love of money (1 Timothy 6:9), followers of Christ must have a completely different perspective on wealth than the world. We serve God, not dollars and cents. Rather than seeking to hoard our resources, we should give of them sacrificially. And there is no better illustration of this kind of sacrificial giving than Jesus Himself.
Jesus became poor so that we might become rich (2 Corinthians 8:9). This reality is treasured by Christians, and rightfully so. It speaks in economic terms and tells of the great sacrifice made by Christ to pay for sin and to clothe Christians in His righteousness. But in light of the cross of Christ and His great gift, how are Christians compelled to give?
Based on David’s Platt’s sermon from 1 Corinthians 16, here are five ways Scripture teaches us to give:
1. Give Universally
When we gather on “the first day of every week,” we are to “put something aside” (2). This is not a command just for the wealthy. Regardless of economic status, Christians are compelled to give. In Corinth there were surely wealthy Christians and there were poor Christians. Each Christian was saved by grace and, therefore, should have been compelled to give by grace.
2. Give Corporately
Christians in Corinth were expected to bring their gifts to the church. The New Testament places a priority on giving in the church, for the church. This is why Christians carve out a time in their weekly gatherings to give. They give their resources for the sake of the local church, the global church, and to meet the physical and spiritual needs of the world. Such corporate giving portrays unity among those gathered, as they use their resources for a common purpose.
3. Give Regularly
The Corinthian church gathered together weekly and brought their gifts. This does not mean that if your paycheck comes every other week or once a month that you must portion your funds to give each week. However, Christians are to give regularly. Paul exhorted the Corinthians to put something aside when they gathered at the first of the week. This is a spiritual discipline. When we give regularly and tangibly, we sometimes get the privilege of seeing lives changed as we show what (or who) our treasure is.
4. Give Proportionately
Paul was aware that not everyone had the same amount of wealth in Corinth. He indicated this when he told the church to put something aside “as he may prosper” (2). The amount surely looked different for the melting pot of backgrounds and vocations in the church at Corinth, and the same holds true for Christians today.
5. Give Responsibly
Money is often used poorly or foolishly. It is a problem today and 1 Corinthians 16:3–4 indicates that it was a problem in the first century. We are responsible not only for what is given but also for how it is used. The aim of giving in the church should always be to glorify God through supporting and edifying God’s people, through caring for those in need, and through the advancement of the gospel to the ends of the earth.
Based on 1 Corinthians 16:1–4, David Platt challenges each of us to apply these principles of giving to our own lives:
Are you giving as a reflection of your commitment to the church and as a picture of your unity with the church, not only in this faith family, but in the broader family of Christ around the world? Are you giving regularly? Is there systematic intentionality in your giving on a regular basis? Are you giving proportionately in a way that reflects all that God has given you? And are you giving responsibly?
And if you’re not, then I want to encourage you not to come up with reasons why you’re not giving according to these biblical principles, but to start giving, now, according to these biblical principles. And to do so not because you feel guilty, but because of God’s grace toward you. Honestly and humbly look at your budget in light of the cross of Christ, and ask the question, “What would the cross of Christ compel me to do with the money I have?” And then to obey.
(For David Platt’s sermon on 1 Corinthians 16:1–4 titled “The Cross and Christian Giving,” go here.)