Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I gave order to the churches of Galatia, so also do ye. Upon the first day of the week let each one of you lay by him in store, as he may prosper, that no collections be made when I come (1 Corinthians 16:1-2).
When early Christians came together on the first day of the week, they would take the opportunity to give of their material resources for the continued advancement of God’s purposes through the work of their local churches (1 Corinthians 16:1-2).
On multiple occasions throughout the New Testament we see commands and examples regarding Christians giving of their financial resources for the work of the church. Acts 11:28-30 tells of how the church in Antioch of Syria sent relief to the church in Jerusalem. In 2 Corinthians 8:1-9:15, Paul exhorts the Corinthians regarding their giving for the needs of the Christians in Judea by speaking of the example of the churches in Macedonia and expecting a similar gift from them; Paul speaks about this same gift in Romans 15:26-27.
Those collections were taken up for a specific purpose: the relief of needy Christians in other places. Nevertheless, giving remains necessary for the local church to continue to maintain the other works God has given it to do: in 1 Corinthians 9:1-14, those who preach the Gospel have the right to make a living from it, and so evangelists can be financially supported. Elders also have the right to be supported in 1 Timothy 5:17-18. Widows who had no other means of support were to be supported by the church according to 1 Timothy 5:1-16. Since local churches to this day have evangelists who deserve financial support, members who might find themselves in need of temporary assistance or even more permanent assistance, and since there are always such needs in other parts of the world as well, Christians should still give on the first day of the week so that the work of the local church might continue.
The only source of income for local churches found in the New Testament derives from the freewill offerings of its members as given on the first day of the week. No specified amount or percentage is given: Christians are to give as they have prospered with a cheerful heart, not under compulsion, although there is the expectation that Christians will give sacrificially, even beyond their abilities (cf. 2 Corinthians 8:1-5, 9:6-15). Christians should be motivated to give back to God and His work since God has given them all things and has blessed them so abundantly (2 Corinthians 9:6-15). Giving, then, represents an opportunity to give back to God and to provide the resources necessary for the local church to do its work.
It is therefore good, right, and proper for Christians to give according to how they have prospered and according to their ability on the first day of the week (1 Corinthians 16:1-2, 2 Corinthians 8:1-9:15). This giving does not absolve the Christian of his or her responsibility to give to others in need (Galatians 2:10, 6:10). The time set aside for giving on the first day of the week is not a solicitation from visitors: it is a chance for members of that local church to give so that the church may continue its work. The money is given with confidence in the leadership of the congregation so that it might be properly and most effectively used to advance God’s purposes in their local community as well as throughout the world. Let us therefore give back to the Lord a portion of what He has given us so that His work of benevolence, edification, and evangelism might continue!
Ethan R. Longhenry