Giving To God – 2
There are financial needs that must be met by every congregation. Those need aren’t met through some miracle but by the offerings and contributions of those who attend. To look at some you might think that anything goes in the realm of church financing but that would be an error. Jesus, through inspired writers, has shown us how he desires the work of the church to be financed. At the outset, remember that Jesus holds all authority (Matthew 28:18) and it is him that we serve. The church was not given as our personal organization but rather as a body of believers serving the one who died for his church. At the very beginning of the church, we find that Christians demonstrated an attitude of caring toward those around them. Acts 2:44, 45 tells us that the church members held all their possessions in common and used them collectively to meet the needs of other church members. This demonstrates firstly the attitude of the early church toward their possessions. It also demonstrates the simplicity with which the needs of brethren were met. They simply took care of each other. Benevolence was an early, central part of the work of the church. Acts 6:1 describes a more organized attempt to help certain needy ones in the church. We learn that there was a program in place to assist the widows. Note there was a ”daily” serving of food. Such could not occur without some organization and without some financial support. That the program was rapidly growing is obvious from the apostle’s plan to appoint certain men over the program and free them to serve purely spiritual matters. How was this financed? Who paid for the food? Back up to Acts 4:34. Here we learn that the needy were being served so that none were overlooked. But we also see the method. Individual church members were financing the work of the church by selling their assets and brining the money to the apostles. There were no bake sales, no retail sales, no fireworks sales, just individual Christians supporting the church through their own contributions. The pattern was simple and straight forward. Bring the money and allow the apostles to determine its use. Of note was the fact that the church members took care of the sales themselves, not burdening the church with the duties of the sale. The church was not in the business of real estate or retail. Instead, the church met the needs of its community through the contributions of its members. That is the pattern. That same pattern was repeated in 1 Corinthians 16:1-4 when Christians in Asia Minor were directed to assist the needy Christians in Jerusalem. Here Paul adds organization to the plan by requiring that the giving be done on the first day of the week. That money was to be set aside so that it would be available to meet the needs of the church. Simple, organized giving, overseen by church leaders. That is the pattern.
Those who were giving received nothing back in return for their funds. It was pure and simple. The church was not burdened with sales plans and government regulations, there was no profit margin to be concerned with and no stock to maintain. Because the giving was done regularly (on Sunday), church leaders could wisely plan the work of the church. That was the pattern and remains the pattern today. Let us cling to the authority of Scripture, seen through both command and approved example, and meet the needs of the church simply and directly.