"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 may prosper, that no collections be made when I come." I Cor. 16:1-2.
Since God has chosen men to do the work of the church, so also did he choose an earthly means for its support. Surely we can understand the fundamental fact that God's Word must be preached, and to be preached, it must be supported. I am sure that if we reach the right attitude as to our relationship to material and Spiritual things, that there will be no hesitancy in supporting God's work. There is one thing that we must know and that is all that we have and are—belongs to God. He made it all. We are merely tenants on the earth, and but stewards of God's multiple blessings of life. "The earth is Jehovah's and the fullness thereof: The world, and they that dwell therein." (Psa. 24:1) "For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills." (Psa. 50:10) As Christians we must recognize our responsibility as stewards of God's word, and our responsibility in the proper administration of it to men—for it is essential that we be found faithful at his returning. (Luke 19 and 20).
If we could realize how liberal God is with us, and yet how lenient he is in requiring the use of these blessings, perhaps we would do more for Him. Just how liberal is God with you and me? Look at what he gives: Life health, a living soul, intelligence to guide that soul, love and all the physical properties of the world, and above all these, salvation offered to each man who will accept. What more can man ask than what God has already given? And how selfish he becomes when he does. The Lord lends us all things and then not wanting us ignorant, instructs us in their right use.
For example, our minds; God gives us intelligence, volition and emotions, then instruction on how to use them. "Set your minds on the things that are above, not on the things that are upon the earth." (Col. 3:2) Could we, knowing God's Book, misunderstand his demand?
Again he gives us Time, and teaches us how to use it. (Eph. 5:16). So also our bodies, and how to use them profitably. (Rom. 12:1-2) Some one may ask: "What about our possessions, our money, what does God say?"
Concerning possessions and money, God teaches us not to trust in them, (Mk. 10:17-22), as did the rich young Ruler. God wants us to use them as a means to an end, and not as the prime aim of life. God wants us to make a life, and not to become a slave to one of its tools—money. Again he teaches us neither to love or to covet money. God wants us to get it rightly, and use it rightly—he asks nothing more. "Thou shalt not steal;" "For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil." In order to use it rightly, we must have the right aspect on life. If in use of our money we will put God first, and think about self last, it will be acceptable unto God. "Go, sell whatsoever thou has, and give it to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come follow me." (Mk. 10:22) "Pure religion and undefiled before our God and Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unspotted from the world." James 1:27. We know that we must put God first to follow these admonitions of putting others before self, so why not learn how God wants us to live and abide therein. I John 4:20-21, and what are the possessions we have, but means to this end?
Surely we can see why it is a fundamental duty of ours to give unto our God. Paul teaches us that we should give for our spiritual advancement, if for no other reason. (Phil. 4:17).
Again, in II Cor. 9:7, he teaches us that God loves a cheerful giver, and that makes all the difference between a person who gives grudgingly, or because he has to, or is ashamed not to, and the one who gives cheerfully—Why? For God LOVES the cheerful giver.
We can realize also that there is no other plan that will suit God, but the one he has ordained. The lost need the gospel and we are to support those who proclaim it to them. (I Cor. 9:14).
It is inevitable that we should come to the question of "How MUCH shall we give," so let us consider. We may ask, "what examples, or what commands do we have?" The one command that we have on how much, is I Cor. 16:1-2, where it says, "As we have been prospered."
II Cor. 9:7 teaches us to purpose this giving, so it would be advisable for us to either, if our income is steady to set aside so much of it, purpose it, each week; or if our income varies to set aside a percentage, so that we may give as we prosper. But "HOW MUCH"?, someone insists. It is impossible to lay down a percentage by which we must go, but it is safe to say that if we are liberal and generous in our purposing, we will find our giving acceptable. It is very unlikely that we can give TOO much. It is also safe to say that the man who wishes to know "How little" he can give, is not likely to please his God, and most people who worry about "how much" want to know in reality, "How little may we give and get by?" If we do not satisfy our consciences and minds, it is a certainty that we didn't satisfy God.
It might be well to say that we should fear God in judgment if we fail to match, in our giving—the amount we spend upon amusements and pleasures in this life. And you know and I know that many fail to meet this one test.
We should realize also that the need should not make any difference in our giving. Regardless to whether we can see an immediate need or not, we are still commanded to give as we prosper.
It is an easy matter to know WHO will give as God commands, for the man who has not given himself to God, will not give of his money. Surely then we would do well to give ourselves, our time, and our money to God's service, "For by their fruits ye shall know them."
Can you please God with your present giving? Is salvation important enough to make you consider seriously your duty to God? If not, why not?
Harry E. Johnson, Box 548, Hamilton, Texas, November 8: "I enjoy reading the Gospel Guardian very much. Some times the writers get a little sarcastic, but I usually agree with what they say. Keep up the fight no matter who likes it, as long as you are right with God; there are grave dangers threatening."