A THEOLOGY OF MONEY
Lord, help me to keep a proper perspective on money and its proper management.
Read 1 CORINTHIANS 16:1–24
16 Now about the collection for the Lord’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. 2 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. 3 Then, when I arrive, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem. 4 If it seems advisable for me to go also, they will accompany me.
5 After I go through Macedonia, I will come to you—for I will be going through Macedonia. 6 Perhaps I will stay with you for a while, or even spend the winter, so that you can help me on my journey, wherever I go. 7 For I do not want to see you now and make only a passing visit; I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits. 8 But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, 9 because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.
10 When Timothy comes, see to it that he has nothing to fear while he is with you, for he is carrying on the work of the Lord, just as I am. 11 No one, then, should treat him with contempt. Send him on his way in peace so that he may return to me. I am expecting him along with the brothers.
12 Now about our brother Apollos: I strongly urged him to go to you with the brothers. He was quite unwilling to go now, but he will go when he has the opportunity.
13 Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. 14 Do everything in love.
15 You know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and they have devoted themselves to the service of the Lord’s people. I urge you, brothers and sisters, 16 to submit to such people and to everyone who joins in the work and labors at it. 17 I was glad when Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus arrived, because they have supplied what was lacking from you. 18 For they refreshed my spirit and yours also. Such men deserve recognition.
19 The churches in the province of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Priscilla greet you warmly in the Lord, and so does the church that meets at their house. 20 All the brothers and sisters here send you greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss.
21 I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand.
22 If anyone does not love the Lord, let that person be cursed! Come, Lord!
23 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you.
24 My love to all of you in Christ Jesus. Amen.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Money is such a possessive master that only love for God can dethrone it.
It would be easy to pass quickly over this chapter, treating it as an appendix in which Paul simply deals with housekeeping matters. But to do so would be to overlook the importance of this passage, beginning with the instructions concerning “the collection for God’s people” (1–4). This project—the raising of funds from the churches founded by Paul as an expression of support for Jewish believers who faced poverty, hunger, and oppression in Jerusalem—is extremely important to the apostle of the Gentiles.
Paul does not consider this merely an act of charity but as an expression of the unity of the body of Christ. There is a theological angle behind this action, i.e., to extend the model of the church beyond the local level of Corinth to encompass the entire Jesus movement across the ancient world. The Corinthians are reminded that not only are they members one of another, but they now belong to a new family in which the barriers of ethnicity, status, and gender which have divided people throughout the Roman Empire are invalidated. So important is this project to Paul that he informs the Roman believers that he must delay both his visit to them and his ultimate ambition of reaching Spain with the Gospel in order to deliver this collection to the suffering saints in Jerusalem.
There is more: this collection demonstrates the solidarity of the Christian movement and expresses a new ethic of giving extended beyond the original Jerusalem congregation to an international scale. This giving shows the watching world a way of life in which mammon is dethroned and God is now enthroned in the hearts of his people. So much for “just housekeeping.” This is a message for a global church in the age of globalization.
How do we move beyond a focus on the local church to embrace the whole of world Christianity as the body of Christ?
Lord, help me to remember that I am but a steward over the money with which You have blessed me and that I must continually be eternally minded concerning its management.
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