BY WHAT AUTHORITY DO WE GIVE? by Dave Brown
Authority for giving is clearly spelled out for us in
the New Testament. For example: "Upon the first day of the
week let each one of you lay by in store as he may prosper, that
no collections be made when I come" (1 Cor. 16:2).
This simple statement authorizes: (1) giving to be done
regularly (if there is prospering), (2) that it be done "upon
the first day of the week," (3) that "each" Christian
is responsible, (4) that the specific amount was determined by
how much "he may prosper" and (5) that the church was
to maintain the contribution "in store" until it could
be used properly.
(The proper use of this money is an important topic, and
it should be clear that authority for the expenditures are as
important as the authority for collections. We will consider
this in future articles.)
The command not to "go beyond" (2 John 9), excludes
a number of things. For example, no other time but the first
day of the week is authorized. And, the bible in no place authorizes
the church to solicit gifts (or otherwise raise money) from those
of the world.
The admonition: "that no collections be made when
I come" infers that Paul did not want to launch an emotional
appeal (or any other type) when he came. He wanted their giving
to be a reasoned and planned expressions of love that comes from
the heart (2 Cor. 8:1-5).
Unlike under the Old Testament, where a specific tithe
and sacrifices were commanded, the exact amount that a Christian
is to give has not been specified. While the Old Testament provides
us with some general principles (Rom. 15:4), we should recognize
that everything that we have belongs to God, including our lives
and beings (Rom. 12:1).
Misunderstood by most religious organizations is the fact
that God does not need our contribution to do His work
(Acts 17:24-25). The conversion of the material wealth which
God has given us into monuments to our own pride is nothing short
of idolatry, especially when we claim to be doing it in
the name of the Lord.
But, like our time and efforts, we need to obey God's
commands to give of our means to glorify our Him. For in doing
so, we are richly blessed (Mk. 10:29-30).