Monday, March 9, 2009

1 Corinthians 16 -- Set Aside

As Paul finishes this letter to the church in Corinth it includes some of the normal pieces. Greetings to and from others. A couple of last encouragements, and challenges. Finally a good bye. At the beginning of the section Paul refers to the collection for the saints. This is the collection being taken to support the work of the Elders, Peter, James etc., back in Jerusalem. In many ways this is directly linked to the regular work of tithing. The concept of tithing in nothing new to the first century. The people of God had been in covenant with God since the promise of Abraham to give to God what is God's. At a minimum, the first and best ten percent.

I find it fascinating how Paul recommends this happen. He says on the first day of the week, set aside a portion of your income, in relation to what your income is, to be given for the work of God. The connotation here is this is the first thing you do with your money for the week. to put it in our context, the first check you write should be what you set aside for God. How often do we wait until the last day of the week to see what is leftover. We are not in the practice of setting aside, rather we are in the practice of wait and see. Rather than set aside, we would rather buy that extra cup of coffee, or go out to lunch rather than skip it.

I wonder what life would be like if that was how God worked with us? What if God waited to see what would be leftover at the end of the week? Sure God would want to bless us more and more, but the risk of running out of blessings is too high. What if God gives a blessing first and someone squanders it? What if God gives a blessing first, and runs out by Wednesday? It seems as though that is a chance God is willing to take.

Setting aside for God is not a financial issue. In fact it has very little to do with account balances. This is an issue of trust. Do we really trust God will provide, or do we think we must do that? The amount of time, energy, effort, resources and money we set aside for God is directly proportional to the amount we trust God.

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