As Paul closed his first letter to the Corinthians, there were a few issues he wanted to highlight.
He reminded the church of instructions for a collection for Christians in Jerusalem.
The church in Israel was suffering because of persecution and famine. Churches in Asia Minor collected an offering to supply the needs of their brothers and sisters in the Holy Land.
The directions that Paul gave the Corinthians have been used to discuss Christian giving for centuries.
— 1 Corinthians 16.1-3 – Now concerning the collection for the saints: you should follow the directions I gave to the churches of Galatia.
On the first day of every week, each of you is to put aside and save whatever extra you earn, so that collections need not be taken when I come.
And when I arrive, I will send any whom you approve with letters to take your gift to Jerusalem.
Because of the resurrection, worship was held on the first day of the week (Sunday), instead of the traditional Jewish sabbath day (Saturday).
Apparently, the situation in Jerusalem was desperate and God’s people were banding together to help. Paul offered a plan designed to maximize the offering.
Like a “lay-a-way” plan at a store, Paul wanted people to weekly save money for the offering.
This kind of advance preparation would result in a larger gift for the starving people in Jerusalem.
Paul found it necessary to remind the Corinthians about giving in chapters 8 and 9 of his second letter. Until a pattern of giving has been established in our lives, we also reminders.
The tithe or 10% of our income is the standard.
I agree with what Rudy Ross said in today’s video. He said, “I’ve lived better on 90% of my income far better than when I wanted to keep it all for myself.”
Try making weekly giving a practice and see what God does in your life.
An Open Door and Adversaries
A further issue that Paul had with the Corinthians church was a delay in his plan for a return visit. This issue will be covered in detail in his second letter.
There is an interesting statement sandwiched in Paul’s discussion of future visits to the church.
— 1 Corinthians 16.8-9 – But I will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, for a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.
I have found Paul’s words about having to contend with many adversaries while taking advantage of “an open door to effective work” to be so fitting.
The open door for sharing the good news of God’s love is here, but we are faced with adversaries.
— Conflict – Petty squabbles and personality differences distract the church from effective service.
— Politics – Culture wars in America have not escaped the church. In fact, the church is right in the middle of culture wars in our country.
I particularly like the counsel that the Pope gave the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church. His advice is good for us all to hear.
He said something to the effect, “Let the Gospel lead you, not politics.”
— Lack of Vision – If we were to ask God, “Show me someone you want me to reach for your kingdom,” I’m certain he would do just that.
We need the vision and willingness to be available to walk through the open door. With vision and availability, we will overcome this adversity.
Paul ended his first letter with encouraging words.
— 1 Corinthians 16.13-14 – Keep alert, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong.
Let all that you do be done in love.
Imagine walking through the dark unfamiliar place with just a candle to light your way. Without a doubt, you will pay attention to the flame and make sure it stays lit.
The alert person guards their heart, every bit as much as someone wants a candle to stay lit on a dark night.
In a city where there are 50,000 who worship pagan gods versus 60 followers of Jesus, courage and strength are necessary.
A quiet strength in the workplace and community that reveals God’s love will walk through the open door of opportunity.
“Let all be done in love” is possibly the most important message for the church in 2021.
Rudy Ross and I discuss this passage on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel. Please take a few minutes to listen.
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