The early church considered benevolence to be an essential practice of Christians. The emphasis was to provide funds for the propagation of the gospel and sustenance to the poor in the congregations. Many commentaries concentrate on organized support for the local church and outreach ministry.
Mosaic offerings and sacrifices were required by law. Individual giving to the needy was also codified into Mosaic law. According to the teaching of Jesus, giving to the needy as a righteous act was to be hidden and anonymous. But in the early church, giving was to be voluntary and not debilitating. The disciples, as each one was able, decided to provide help for the brothers and sisters living in Judea. Acts 11:29
The more I give, the more I will receive. The most important aspect of giving is attitude and motivation. We must give without expecting anything back in return. Although this verse is very worn, I find it encouraging, and continue to try to give where I am able. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Luke 6:38
Lord Jesus, Thank you for your love and mercy to me. Help me to give with joy and willingness to the needs of others. Help me to know where to give my offering for organized giving. Amen.
Gift to the Jerusalem Church
When persecution befell the church in Jerusalem, Paul sent messages around to the other churches in the Mediterranean area that he had founded to organize a large gift for their relief. This was to be a special offering and took up most of the new testament passages about giving. Here is the origin of the practice of taking up a collection during Sunday church services. And giving in secret means putting the money in an envelope so no one knows how much it is.
Now about the collection for the Lord’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made. Then, when I arrive, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem. If it seems advisable for me to go also, they will accompany me. 1 Corinthians 16:1-4
Now, however, I am on my way to Jerusalem in the service of the Lord’s people there. For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the Lord’s people in Jerusalem. Romans 15:25-26
So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to visit you in advance and finish the arrangements for the generous gift you had promised. Then it will be ready as a generous gift, not as one grudgingly given. Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.” Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 2 Corinthians 9:5-10
Lord Jesus, Bless me and heal me and cleanse me of my sin. Allow my gift to the church to bless others and help me to know compassion to the poor. Amen.