Does I Corinthians 16:1-2 Apply to Us Today?
by Clem Thurman
via Gospel Minutes, Vol. 57, No. 25, June 20, 2008.
Let us first note what the passage says: "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 my prosper, that no collections be made when I come" (I Corinthinas 16:1-2). It is clear that this command was not only for the church in Corinth. This letter is addressed to: "The church of God which is at Corinth, even them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ in every place" (I Corinthians 1:2). Even in this passage, he mentioned others as having the same responsibility: "As I gave order to the churches of Galatia, so also do ye."
Yes, the funds collected were for the "poor saints" in Jerusalem (Romans 15:26), but that is not the only reason for our giving. Preachers are to be supported by the church: "Have we no right to eat and drink? Have we no right to lead about a wife that is a believer, even as the rest of the apostles, and the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas? Or I only and Barnabas, have we not a right to forbear working? ... Even so did the Lord ordain that they that proclaim the gospel should live of the gospel" (I Corinthians 9:4-6, 14). Paul said the same thing to the churches of Galatia, "But let him that is taught in the Word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things" (Galatians 6:6). So, the giving of members of the church than was not limited to helping the poor saints. The church has many financial obligations it must meet. The church then had them, churches today have them. We know that the early church spent a great deal of money on mission work; for instance, Paul received help many times from many churches for his work in planting churches here and there.
I know that sometimes it seem there is a great emphasis on giving in the local church. Could that be the result of the materialistic society in which we live? Success in our culture is measured in dollars instead of purity of life. But constant "brow-beating" of members in Paul's day to give was not the practice. Nor is it conducive to spirituality now. There should be proper teaching on giving, and reminders from time to time. But we need always to remember that money is only a tool which God grants us to use in His service.
Maybe some preachers do get big salaries today, if compared with salaries of fifty years ago. Who doesn't? But if you will compare the average preacher's salary with that of other "professional educated" men of the congregation, you will find the preacher is among the lowest paid. Having spent most of my life (until just recently) in "full time" preaching, I found very few preachers that I met who were overpaid. Most put in sixty hours or more a week, and nearly all could make more money doing something else for a living. But they are doing their work for a LIFE. And most are happy doing it. I suppose there are some preachers somewhere who are overpaid. I never was, and I never met very many who were.
"What is right?" How much should one give, and how should it by used by the local church? How much should be spent on the building and its upkeep? How much should be spent on local work? How much should be spent on mission work in other areas of the world? These questions cannot be answered except by the people involved in a given locality. I always suggest that members of a congregation talk with the elders and others in the church who make up the church budget. You have a right to know how the money given upon the Lord's Day is being spent. And all the elders I know will welcome your suggestions as a member of the local congregation over which they have the oversight. And their explanation will nearly always satisfy you that they have chosen a wise course.
Budgets should never take precedence over the teaching of God's Word. Nor should money become as important as our mission of saving souls. But, at the same time, we need to carefully examine our own objections to emphasis on money and its use for the Lord. We need to make sure that our resentment is not based on our desire to "hang on" to what we have. "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon the earth, where moth and rust consume, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth consume, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where thy treasure is, there will thy heart be also" (Matthew 6:19-21). Let us prove our love for the Lord and His church by our giving, as the Galatians and Corinthians did. (II Corinthians 8:1-12).