As Paul often did when he visited the churches, he collected offerings to support the poor Christians in Jerusalem.
And in his instructions, I think we see several principles concerning our giving.
First, give in accordance with your income. Don’t feel like you have to match the giving of someone who makes twice as much as you do. God knows how much you make and how much you can afford to give. He doesn’t really care how much you give, so long as you give from your heart. (See Luke 21:1-4)
Second, be intentional about your giving. What does that mean?
For one thing, don’t give because you feel pressured to, but because you want to.
For another thing, make it a point to set aside how much you want to give from the very beginning. In other words, put it into your budget. Don’t just think, “Well, I’ll take care of all my expenses first, and then if there’s anything left over, I may give a portion of what remains.”
Rather, from the beginning, think about what you want to give. Make it a purposeful part of your budget. And then as necessary, cut down on your other expenses so that you can give what you planned.
All these principles we can see in Paul’s words. He said,
On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up so that when I come no collections will have to be made. (2)
Finally, make sure that there’s financial accountability in the institution or church you’re giving to. Paul said,
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. (3-4)
All of this seems to be intended to make sure that everything was done above board, and that the money was handled by people who could be trusted.
The money we have is a trust given to us by God. Let us treat it that way, and use it in ways glorifying to him.