Gospel Gazette Online
Volume 23 Number 5 May 2021
Page 15

Is Giving an Act of Worship?

Rusty Stark

One of the questions lately raised about taking up a collection is whether giving is an act of worship. This question must be answered in the affirmative – without doubt and without apology. That giving is worship can be proved easily by a simple, straightforward understanding of the word “worship” and a clear explanation of the concept of giving.

An Explanation of Worship

Worship is paying homage or showing adoration toward deity; it is to praise and glorify. “Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name…” (Psalm 29:2) “Worship may be described as an expression of awe, devotion, and love – from man, the creature, to his Creator” (Jackson). Another important fact necessary to distinguish what is worship and what is not is this: Worship is prescribed by God, that is, He has given directions to man, showing him how to pay homage, show adoration, praise and glorify Him (John 4:24). Those actions that God has prescribed as a way of showing homage to Him are worship.

An Explanation of Giving

  1. The giving commanded in the New Testament is a prescribed action (1 Corinthians 16:1-2).
  2. It was to be done when the saints assembled. If it were not done during a time when the church came together, the money would not have been collected in one place. Paul’s stated purpose in making the command is so the money would already be gathered when he arrived at Corinth (1 Corinthians 16:1-2).
  3. This action was performed for the purpose of: (a) glorifying God (2 Corinthians 9:11-13), (b) showing our love to Him (2 Corinthians 8:8-9) and (c) meeting certain needs for others (Romans 15:26).
  4. Notice that giving was also commanded in a discussion of the worship assembly of the saints (1 Corinthians 11:17-16:2). First Corinthians 11:17 begins a discussion of the worship assembly – the time when the church came together into one place. The Lord’s supper is discussed in chapter 11:17ff. Chapter 14 shows how preaching and teaching, prayer and singing fit into our public assemblies. Chapter 16 gives us the prescription for how to give during the time we come together for worship.

Giving as an Act of Worship

As many have pointed out, worship often included the giving of gifts.

  1. In Numbers 18:11, the heave offering brought for sacrifice was called a “gift.”
  2. One of the tithes given by the Israelites was specifically associated with a feast they ate before God as worship (Deuteronomy 12:17-19).
  3. Hebrews 5:1 reads, “For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins.”
  4. The wise men came from the east to worship Jesus (Matthew 2:2). They brought gifts (Matthew 2:11).
  5. In Philippians 4:18, the gift sent to Paul from the Philippians was called “an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God.”
  6. Hebrews 13:16 reads, “But to do good and to communicate [share, be generous] forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”

Once we understand what worship is, and we understand what giving is, it seems a little silly to ask if giving is worship. A much better question might well be this: “How could giving to God, as a demonstration of our love, in the prescribed place and time (the worship assembly), for the purpose of carrying out the mission of the church, be considered anything other than worship?”

1 Corinthians 16:1-2 Is
Still Applicable Today

As amazing as it seems, some are questioning whether we can apply the commands in 1 Corinthians 16:1-2 to the church today. Some reason that this was a gift for a special need at the time (needy saints), and that it was never intended to become a pattern for how and when saints give today.

This reasoning is faulty and dangerous. The instructions given to the early church are set forth in Scripture for a reason. We must take such guidelines as normative – providing a pattern for all Christians unless there is some conclusive contextual reason for seeing them in a more limited way. If we don’t see it that way, then the New Testament cannot be a pattern. If the New Testament is not a pattern, then the chaos and division in the religious world is justified because we have no guidelines for what church and worship are all about. God is not to blame for the chaos and confusion in the religious world (1 Corinthians 14:33). He has left us a pattern, and He commands us to follow it (2 Timothy 1:13).

Furthermore, the need that was met by giving is not a temporary need. Jesus said in Mark 14:7 that the poor would always be with us. The needs of the needy are part of pure religion. This was not simply a first century problem. It is an ongoing problem with which every century and every generation must deal. How do we go about meeting this need and fulfilling this obligation? How do we gather money to help the poor? God has not left us in doubt, for He has given us the pattern in 1 Corinthians 16:1-2.

First Corinthians 16:1-2 authorizes a treasury, that is, a collective store of money. In Galatians 6, we see a context in which both giving to the poor and providing for the preaching of the Gospel come together. Verse 10 commands us to do good unto “all men.” Galatians doesn’t tell us how to fulfill this command. We are left to verses like 1 Corinthians 16:1-2 for guidance in how. Notice that Galatians 6:6 commands that those who are being taught should support the ones who do the teaching. Again, nothing is said about how, but the same pattern given for the support of the weak would also provide for the support that allows “those who preach the Gospel” to “live of the Gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:14).

First Corinthians 16:1-2 is not only still applicable today, but also it is binding on us today. It is a means of showing our love and a beautiful, divinely prescribed act of worship to our great God.

Works Cited

Jackson, Wayne. “Giving as an Expression of Worship.” ChristianCourier.com. 21 April 2021. <https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/918-giving-as-an-expression-of-worship>.

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