Now about the collection for the Lord’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. 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. Then, when I arrive, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem. If it seems advisable for me to go also, they will accompany me.1 Corinthians 16:1-4
In this passage Paul is speaking to the Corinthians about two of his greatest passions: providing for the ministry of the Word and caring for the poor. Paul is particular about the principle of regular giving; he asks the Corinthians to set aside a certain amount every week in proportion to each person’s prosperity, so that the money will be ready and available when he arrives. This principle is still valid today. Christian stewardship and fundraising professional Wesley K. Willmer explains why this discipline is important.
“Once we establish the importance of giving to God first, we need to set up practical ways to ensure that we are faithful in our resolve. Often we have good intentions, but are tripped up by a lack of discipline in our method of giving! We can order our lives to set aside a portion of our money for God, a portion for our savings, and a portion for spending. In fact, some people open additional bank accounts in order to separate money to be given to God from household expenses. Others have established automatic withdrawals from their checking account to ensure that a portion of their income goes directly, and faithfully, to God’s work.”
Giving systematically is the key to faithful giving. Pastor Albert C. Winn elaborates on the principle.
“Deeply embedded in the idea of [giving] is the principle of regularity. To [give] is to give regularly, preferably once a week, week in and week out. This takes giving out of the realm of mood. We don’t give just when we feel like it, or just when our heartstrings have been plucked by some dramatic and sentimental appeal. We give when the time comes, regardless of our mood. Regularity takes a lot of the pain out of giving.”
I think we have to be honest about people’s pain in giving, about our pain in giving. People who do counseling tell us that we ought to deal with grief. Money is a part of your life. Money represents days and hours of sweat and tears. Money is a part of you, and to part with it is a grief process. It’s pain. But a decision to give regularly takes a lot of that pain away! You don’t have to make a number of painful decisions during the year. As the saying goes, you don’t have to cut the dog’s tail off an inch at a time. You can make one basic decision, and then it’s simply a matter of carrying out that decision regularly and systematically.
Regularity also saves us from self-deception. If we give nothing for a time, and then for a heartstring appeal we give a hundred dollars, we deceive ourselves that we are very generous. But if that’s divided into two dollars a week, not many of us can claim great generosity from such a gift.