Now concerning the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. 2 On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come. 1 Corinthians 16:1-2
Through the Bible: 1 Corinthians 15-16
As he often does at the conclusion of his letters, the Apostle Paul deals with some housekeeping issues at the end of 1 Corinthians. He reminds the Corinthians church of their commitment to collect an offering to benefit the believers in Jerusalem, possibly because of the famine that is mentioned in Acts 11:28. On a side note, this verse offers support for the argument that the early church moved quickly from worshiping on the Jewish Sabbath to gathering on Sunday, “the first day of the week.”
Verse 2 ends with a curious instruction: “that there be no gatherings when I come.” Why would Paul want to make sure that the offerings were collected in advance of his coming?
Scripture does not explicitly give an answer, but I think we can make some educated guesses. We know that Paul was laser-focused on proclaiming the gospel. He had already told the Corinthians at the beginning of this letter that he “determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2). I think that he wanted to make sure that when he returned to Corinth he could be focused on the gospel message and not fundraising. He was ready to get down to business, without letting “business” get in the way!
We deal with similar tensions in the church today. I am often asked by the stewardship committee at our church to plan a sermon on giving once or twice a year, especially around budget planning time. On the other hand, I have heard from people who are frustrated when they feel like “all preachers ever talk about is money.” While I suspect this is mostly unfair, its hard to argue the point if you watch the televangelists on TV.
Paul had a singular focus. Proclaim Christ. He had a secondary focus: Contribute to the needs of the saints. Neither can be ignored, but only one should be elevated. What is your singular focus? Can you make it a priority to take care of other tasks throughout the week so that when you come to worship, you can focus on worship?
Father, help me give You the focused attention You expect, and the praise You deserve.