Giving may be one of the most revealing works we are called to do that exposes our hearts. The way we give in our culture brings about other sorts of temptations. The public nature of “passing the plate” allows others to see whether or not a fellow member gives. The extent to which we will go to preserve our image is unbelievable. Like putting in an empty envelope or the one dollar bill giving. Both gives the appearance of giving but the truth about us remains hidden.
Those things do not even get to what our motives are. It’s possible that the person actually has nothing to give for legitimate reasons yet wants to maintain a very edited version of themselves. While others have so much that to part with a single coin is next to impossible. We are called to give with a cheerful heart. The picture above shows the widow gladly giving the only TWO coins she had. Do you give with joy in your heart and a smile on your face?
It reminds me of the Hobbit movies. If you are familiar with those movies I can briefly remind you of the scene where they are approaching Lake Town in the boat with Bard. They had made arrangements to pay Bard to transport them into the town. One of the Dwarves named Gloin was reluctant to give his share…that is until he saw his home—the Lonely Mountain. When he saw it he said, “Here, take it all!”
The application is this: when we see Jesus rightly, we are willing to give all we have. See, the duty of giving will only go so far. But when we LOVE Jesus, there’s no end to what we will give…even our lives. So, we don’t necessarily have an obedience problem. We have a love problem. Love never fails.
Paul ends this letter with instructions about giving to “a collection for the saints.” We understand that to be a collection for Jewish Christians who were living through a famine in the Jerusalem area. In other words, they are gathering an offering for people they did not know. But the fact that they were fellow Christians in need was enough. And they were to begin this process before Paul arrived.
Planning your giving is good and wise. To be cheerful you must give thought to what you are doing. And it’s good to think about it every week “as God may have prospered you.” And it was also important to display integrity for the future delivery. There should ALWAYS be witnesses for accountability around the offering. It is wise and good to do so. I would never want to have such a gift in my hand alone for the simple fact that anyone could think anything about what that looks like. Living above reproach is avoiding situations that would cause reproach…even the slightest whiff of it.
Enough about giving. Isn’t it strange the place “for a wide door for effective service” for Paul was also a place of “many adversaries”? Where God is at work so too is the enemy. The book of Acts began on Pentecost which is a celebration 50 days after Passover for the harvest. The Passover from which the book of Acts began was the one which Jesus was the Passover Lamb. That Passover began a harvest of souls on that following Pentecost.
Amazingly, the harvest has continued and will continue. Paul has an open door for a harvest of souls around Pentecost. I just think the imagery is beautiful. But there are tares in the wheat, too. That will be so until the end. However, the harvest is ripe. Did you notice the continued language of Pentecost? The household of Stephanas was the firstfruits in Achaia meaning there would be MORE harvest…more souls to believe and love Jesus.
Dear, beloved of the Lord. Let work until Jesus comes!
13 Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.
14 Let all that you do be done in love. – 1 Corinthians 16:13-14