A Suggestion to Those Who “Preside” … Over the Collection, by: John R. Gentry

“On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper ….”  1 Cor. 16.2, esv

In the April 6, 2006, edition of Truth Magazine, an article written by Craig Meyer was published entitled “A Suggestion To Those Who “Preside”” (L.7, p214).  In this good article brother Meyer correctly emphasized that “men who “wait on the Lord’s Table” … have an important work” and “men who “preside” … fill a vital role, too.”  Brother Meyer’s well written and much needed article only dealt with the Lord’s Supper.  This article will offer some suggestions for those who “preside” over the taking up of the collection.

The reason for having men give a short talk before a congregation eats the Lord’s Supper is to help fix and focus the minds of those eating the Supper on the body and blood of Jesus as he was killed and crucified on the cross.  God certainly gives authority for such talks in the several passages that teach us about the Lord’s Supper and the passages that emphasize the need for general teaching, exhortation and admonition, but they are not specifically mandated by the pattern God gives for the eating of the Lord’s Supper.  Why then do we have such talks?  In the words of brother Meyer, “Mark it down and mark it well: All who partake of the Lord’s Supper have a fearsome task before God.  And any mental detachment or non-preparation on either the part of the one who “presides” (Jas. 3.1) or on the part of the one who partakes (1 Cor. 11.27–29, 34) is just asking to be “cast into the great winepress of the wrath of God” (Rev. 14.19).”  In other words, everyone who eats the Lord’s Supper must be well prepared for such a monumental memorial.

But what about the taking up of the collection?  Why is it often times considered so insignificant as to warrant no words of teaching or exhortation to help those giving do so with the right heart?  Or, if anything is said, why do we simply reference or quickly read 1 Cor. 16.1, 2?  Some balk at the idea of having a short exhortation before the taking up of the collection saying it stems from sectarianism or denominationalism.  Before you get to balking or barking too loudly, consider the following facts and salient scriptures:

  1. Paul spent two entire chapters exhorting and encouraging the Corinthians to give more money (2 Cor. 8, 9), which is more than he spent on correcting the errors of their eating the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 11.17–34).
  2. The preaching of the prophets often included rebuke and reproof regarding the poor and pitiful giving of the people of God as they provided polluted and profaned presents in their worship to God (cf. 1 Sam. 2.29; 2 Chron. 34.25; Isa. 43.23, 24; Ezek. 20.28, 31; Malachi).
  3. Moses instructed and entreated the people of God to give generously in Exodus 35 and 36.  And David invoked and incited the people of God to greater giving through his precedent and pattern of giving, and he publicly prayed and petitioned God to bless their giving in 1 Chronicles 29.
  4. Jesus even admonished and appealed to his disciples to greater giving in Mark 12.41–44.

Surely it can be acknowledged that there is nothing wrong and everything right with encouraging and exhorting the people of God today to greater giving in sermons, classes, articles, and even in the “short talk” before the taking up of the collection.

In providing exhortation to greater giving several principles and passages could be used:

  1. The typical points focus on the facts that God has commanded we give every first day of the week (1 Cor. 16.1, 2) and that our contribution to the collection is God’s plan and pattern for funding the work he has given the church to do in evangelism and edification (1 Cor. 9; 2 Cor. 11.7–9; Phil. 1.5; 4.10–20; 1 Tim. 5.17, 18) and benevolence (1 Cor. 16.1–4; 2 Cor. 8–9).  Generally these thoughts are coupled with the attitude one is to have when giving, that is cheerfully and not grudgingly (Acts 20.35; 2 Cor. 9.6, 7).
    However, in addition to the passages cited earlier regarding examples of the people of God being exhorted and encouraged to greater giving, the following principles and passages might prove profitable: [1]
  2. We must be good stewards of the resources God has given us (Deut. 8.17, 18; Ps. 24.1; Hag. 2.8; Matt. 25.14–30; Rom. 11.36; 1 Cor. 4.2), and we should use all of these resources to the glory of God and for the furtherance of his Kingdom.
  3. We must follow God’s example in giving (Deut. 6.10–12; Matt. 7.11; Luke 6.38; John 3.16; Rom. 8.32; 2 Cor. 8.9; 9.8, 11; 1 Tim. 6.17; 1 John 3.16–18).
  4. We must store up treasures for ourselves in heaven and not on earth for worldly wealth is fleeting (Prov. 23.4, 5; 30.8, 9; Eccles. 5.10–15; Matt. 6.19–21; 19.29; Mark 10.25; Luke 6.24; 16.25; 1 Tim. 6.6–10, 17–19; Heb. 11.25, 26).  In part, this involves fulfilling our part in funding and financing the work of the local church.
  5. “God prospers us not to raise our standard of living, but our standard of giving” (Luke 3.11; Acts 2.44, 45; 4.32–37; Rom. 12.13; 2 Cor. 8.7, 13–15; 9.10, 11; Eph. 4.28; 1 Tim. 6.17–19; Jas. 2.15, 16).  Although these passages primarily discuss responsibilities in the individual realm, the same principles would certainly apply to the realm of the local church and should exhort us to greater giving.

Also consider the following passages as listed in The Cross Reference Bible:

  • LIBERALITY (Christian virtue of loving consideration and succor of others): Enjoined.—Ex. 22:29, 30; 23:15; 34:20; Lev. 23:22, 25:35–43; Pr. 3:9, 10, 27, 28; Eccl. 11:1, 2; Mt. 5:42; 19:21, 22; Mk. 10:21–26; Lu. 3:11; 6:38; 11:41; 12:33; 18:22–26; Acts 20:35; Rom. 12:8; 15:27; II Cor. 8:7, 11–15; I Tim. 6:18; Heb. 13:16.
  • Ministering to Necessity.—Lev. 25:35–41; Deut. 15:7–11; 24:19–22; Job 29:11–16; Ps. 41:1–3; Pr. 25:21, 22; Is. 58:6, 7; Mt. 19:21, 22; Mk. 9:41; 10:21, 22; Lu. 3:10, 11; 12:33, 34; Rom. 12:13; 15:26, 27; Gal. 2:10; Eph. 4:28; Phil. 4:9–18; I Tim. 5:16; 6:17–19; Jas. 2:15, 16; I John 3:17.
  • According to Ability.—Ex. 35:21–29; 36:3–7; 38:8; Deut. 16:10, 17; I Cor. 16:1, 2; II Cor. 8:13–15.
  • Willingly.—Ex. 25:2; I Chr. 29:3–9; Pr. 21:26; I Cor. 13:3; II Cor. 8:11, 12; 9:5–15; Philemon 14.
  • The Reward of.—Ps. 112:5, 9; Pr. 3:9, 10; 11:24–26; 19:17; 22:9; 28:27; Eccl. 11:1; Is. 32:7, 8; 58:10, 11; Ez. 18:7–17; Mt. 25:34–40; Lu. 6:30–35; 12:33, 34; Heb. 6:10.
  • Instances: In Old Testament.—Pharaoh to Jacob—Gen. 45:18–20.  Israelites—Ex. 36:5.  David—II Sam. 8:11; I Ki. 7:51; 8:17, 18; I Chr. 16:3; 21:24, 25.  Barzillai and Others to David—II Sam. 17:27–29; 24:22, 23.
  • In New Testament.—Joanna and Others—Lu. 8:3.  Zacchæus—Lu. 19:8.  Centurion—Lu. 7:4, 5.  The Samaritan—Lu. 10:33, 35.  Poor Widow—Lu. 21:2–4; Mk. 12:41–44.  Jerusalem Christians—Acts 2:45.  Barnabas—Acts 4:36, 37.  Dorcas—Acts 9:36.  Cornelius—Acts 10:2.  Church at Antioch—Acts 11:29, 30.  Lydia—Acts 16:15.  Paul—Acts 20:34; 24:17.  Churches of Macedonia—Rom. 15:26; II Cor. 8:1–5.  Churches of Galatia—I Cor. 16:1.  Churches of Corinth—Rom. 15:26; I Cor. 16:1; II Cor. 8:1–9, 15.  Church in Philippi—Phil. 1:5; 4:15.  Other Macedonian Churches—II Cor. 11:7–10; 12:13.  See “Christian Graces”—II Pet. 1:10.  See “Teaching of Jesus” on “Giving”—Lu. 2:21.[2]
  • Giving.—Lu. 6:1–4, 38; 10:8; 11:9–13, 41.  Giving All; Receiving more—Mt. 19:28–30; Mk. 10:28–31; Lu. 18:29, 30.  To him that asketh—Mt. 5:42; Lu. 6:34–38.  Poor, To the—Mt. 10:42; 19:21–26; 25:34–46; Mk. 9:41; 10:21–25; Lu. 12:33, 34; 18:18–27.  Parable of Rich Man and Lazarus—Lu. 16:19–31.  See Lu. 16:9.[3]

No doubt there are other passages that could be considered, but, Lord willing, these few will provide some food for thought.  For those who don’t make any attempt to exhort the people of God to greater giving while “presiding” over the taking up of the collection, why not start now?  For those who do, why not “excel still more!”?

http://HaveBibleWillPreach.com

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[1] Some of these points were taken from http://GenerousGiving.org.  Although this group has denominational ties and tendencies, there are a few pages with good information such as general statistics regarding giving trends among Americans.

[2] Monser, Harold E. The Cross-Reference Bible (New York: The Cross-Reference Bible Company, 1910), pp2144, 2145.

[3] Ibid., p1901.

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