Now concerning the collection for the saints … 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 (1 Corinthians 16:1-2).
Paul here instructs the Corinthian church to lay aside funds before he comes to visit them. Why lay aside funds? “So that there will be no collecting when I come.”
Here is a systematic, organized, purposeful plan in order to accomplish a biblical obligation.
When the Bible clearly lays out a responsibility — whether financial giving, or evangelism, or discipleship — there is the implied responsibility to be as purposeful and organized as necessary to fulfill that biblical command.
Kingdom work will not happen unless it is purposefully practiced in the midst of life’s daily distractions and disruptions.
Here, concerning giving, Paul is teaching not only the obligation to give to the poor saints in Jerusalem, but the coinciding obligation to do what is necessary to bring that effectively to pass. “Bring together a collection each week when you corporately worship, as good stewards of your time and money, so that when I come there is not a frantic attempt to hurriedly scrape together a love offering for the needy.”
As Derek Prime observes:
[Although] we prefer often to use the word “offering” as an alternative to ‘collection’ to express the sense of freedom and joy we know in giving, it is not inappropriate to use the word “collection”, and Paul does not hesitate to use it. The word “collection” implies the necessary machinery that is required for the gathering together of money from Christians for God’s work in the world. Every good thing we possess — including our material possessions and money — comes from the Lord. Stewardship of them is a responsibility God gives us.
While most churches do set aside money, as a church, to be regularly given toward needs that arise — do you do that as an individual, or as a family? Or do you just assume that giving to the Lord’s work will “happen” whenever the Lord gives you a desire to do so, or provides in some extraordinary way financially? The financial support of Kingdom work to which every Christian is called will not happen unless it is purposefully and regularly practiced in the midst of life’s daily challenges, distractions, and disruptions.
The same principle applies to personal evangelism, or family devotions, or marital communication, or tax preparation. Good intentions, or a merely mental assent to a biblical obligation, will not do. There must be a purposeful plan, a careful stewardship of the time and energy and money and people that God has placed in your life in order to accomplish the crucial purposes for which God has entrusted them to you.
Our giving — whether of money, or time, or spiritual gifts — should be organized and purposeful.
Paul says specifically that this obligation is for “each of you” as Christians.
Every one of you is to put something aside and store it up, according to how God has provided for you. The obligation is not just for the wealthy, or the particularly gifted, or for those who feel especially “impressed by the Spirit.” Nor is this only a command to those who are naturally organized or “to-do list” oriented. It is for all of us. Our giving — whether of money, or time, or spiritual gifts — should be organized and purposeful. And it should be in proportion to how the Lord has blessed you.