1 Corinthians 16:1-4 — Paul Was Just Talking About the Resurrection. Now, He’s Talking About Giving! What’s Going On Here?

Posted: August 12, 2015 in 1 Corinthians

1 Corinthians 16:1-4 — Have you ever been sitting around talking with friends or family and you suddenly wonder how you got to be talking about this particular subject? It happens alot as conversations can ramble in all directions when you are just hanging out. It is often funny in and of itself to do what I call a conversation audit. You audit the trail of the conversation. You work your way backwards from subject that you are talking about now and figure out what made the subject matter turn at each point. It can be hilarious to see how a conversation that started out about say Clemson football ended being a conversation about something totally different like say the state of politics in Venezuela. These two thoughts sound disconnected but there was a trail of turning points in the conversation.

Sometimes, too, when talking to our wives, we men may think that they just randomly change the subject of a conversation at times. But as we know with women that they are wired differently than we are. In a woman’s brain, everything is connected. Whereas we men have compartmentalized brains where we have to purposefully change gears in our heads from one thought to another. With my wife, Elena, we call it “following the trail” in her mind. When she explains the trail, the abrupt change in direction of a conversation makes perfect sense. When she explains how the connection between the two thoughts was made in her brain, it all comes into focus. That kind of trail of seemingly disjointed thoughts brings us to 1 Corinthians 16:1-4.

Paul seems to abruptly change gears here. He goes from talking about our resurrected bodies at the second coming of Christ in 1 Corinthians 15 to now talking about the collection of a special offering in the first four verses of Chapter 16, the final chapter of the book of 1 Corinthians. This seems as if Paul finished his previous thought and went to dinner and came back and began dictating his letter again without checking with his scribe to see where he left off. However, that’s really not the case here. We need to audit the conversation. We need to follow the trail. Paul was writing about the resurrection and now he’s talking about giving. There is a connection there. We must see it.

In the resurrection of Jesus Christ and in our own resurrections, we find great hope and joy. We have been saved from what we deserve through the death of Jesus Christ on the cross and it is through His resurrection that we know that death is not the end. We know that there is a wondrous heaven that awaits us after death. Jesus confirms this through his resurrection. The death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ symbolizes, too, for us that we have died to our sins through Jesus and He carries our sins to the depths of the grave. Through Jesus Christ, we arise from the grave a new person, a new creation. We are made whole again. We are made pure through Jesus Christ. The resurrection is symbolic of our new life in Christ. It is the joy of the resurrection physically of Jesus that gives us great joy in knowing that we believe in the Son of God who has authority over all things. It is the joy of our salvation that resurrects us into new life. It is this joy that should mark our giving.

It is the joy of the resurrection of our Savior that let’s us know that He is in control and that there is a heaven and it is the joy of our salvation in Him that should lead us to give generously. How joyous are you in your salvation? Do you gladly give of your resources to your local church? For most of us, the giving of our resources to the church looks like we are not very joyous over what Christ has done for them. Only 2% of all churchgoers actually tithe. Most give the leftover $20 that they may happen to have in their wallet when they go to church. We should be giving our first fruits. We should be giving the top layer of our cash to the local church. That should be the first check we write and not the last. It should be because we are so overjoyed in our salvation that we gladly give the first 10%, at least, of our personal harvest to the Lord. We should be starting from the point of what can we do for the Lord rather than ending with well this is what I have leftover to give to the Lord.

In this passage, Paul is speaking of a special offering for the down and out Christians in Jerusalem. The Christ followers in Jerusalem often suffered great poverty because of their faith in Jesus Christ. They were ostracized from their family. Often, they were prevented for getting jobs because of their faith stance. Add to that, Palestine was suffering through a drought at the time so the whole Palestinian economy was suffering. Paul instructs the church to set aside a portion of the money that each one had earned during the previous week. He said do it systematically each week and not wait til the last minute before He arrives to take up the collection. This is true for this special collection but is true for us for our own giving to the church. We should budget for our giving. We should be arranging our lives financially in such a way that we can live off of 90% or less of what we make so that we can be obedient to the Lord’s commands when it comes to the tithe and our offerings above the tithe. Our giving to the church should be a part of our budget and not something we scrounge through our wallet for right before the usher passes by or right before we bring our offering down to the altar.

Could you imagine the blessings that our churches could be to the communities in which we are each located if all Christians tithed and gave generously above that as well? Could you imagine the impact for the gospel of Jesus Christ that we could have if we all gave our first fruits to our local churches instead of our left over cash in our wallet? Could you imagine how far we could spread the gospel? Could you imagine the real impact that we could have on the lives of people in need? Could you imagine the social injustices that we could address head on if all believers took obedience to the Lord in their finances seriously and with joy? We have been saved my friends! We have been taken from the clutches of the evil one. We have been set on a high place. We have resurrected life in Jesus Christ. Remember, what He saved us from! Our sins have condemned us to hell. When we ask Jesus to be our Savior and Lord, He saves us from that! What greater joy is for a prisoner to have his sentence lifted and be set free! Remember the joy of our salvation. Be generous to your local body of the church of Jesus Christ. Give it your best! Give it your first fruits! We have resurrection in Jesus Christ! We should be the most joyous and generous people on the planet because are actually aware of the pit that we have avoided through our salvation in Jesus Christ! Let us be that joyous and generous church that just blows people away with our generosity both personally and corporately! Let us quit looking like the world that lives off of 110% of what it makes and be the people that lives off of 90% or less of what they make. Let us be known as the generous people. Let us be known by the love that we have in our hearts and is expressed through our generous giving.

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