by J. Randal Matheny, editor
Why do I have to do something if my brother doesn’t have to? Such an attitude is infantile, but it exists even in adults. On the other hand, we often want to be free of obligations imposed upon others. Never do we question why they have to do things that we’re not obligated to do.
The gospel imposes upon all the same obligations and responsibilities.
“Now about the collection for the saints: you should do the same as I instructed the Galatian churches” (1 Corinthians 16:1 HCSB).
Several times in 1 Corinthians, Paul emphasized the teaching and practice common to all the churches. Now, at the end, he mentions a group of churches to which he had delivered the same instruction.
Why, though, does he mention the Galatians specifically?
Perhaps they had a similar lethargy and the same need to hear these instructions. Perhaps he had written a letter to them recently and they came readily to mind. Perhaps he had made a recent trip to that region and had emphasized this duty. We really don’t know.
By mentioning them specifically, however, he encourages the Corinthians to action, just as he will mention the Macedonians in a subsequent letter for the same purpose (2 Corinthians 8:1ff). Perhaps, too, he hoped to avoid an immature reaction on their part (and they were immature! 1 Corinthians 3:1ff) as to why they had to do this and not others. Many disciples were already contributing to help the saints, and the Corinthians must be no exception.
By mentioning the Galatians, Paul does not mean to say that this ordinance applies only to the Galatians and the Corinthians, and that other churches are free from giving. On the contrary.
The Christian duties are common to us all. What goes for one goes for all. What’s good for the goose, is good for the gander and the goslings. Although we may fulfill these duties according to our ability (not everyone gives the same amount), they remain the responsibility of every saint.
The Christian ordinances or commandments are a part of what establishes our unity. Immersion in water, for example, makes us all sons of God through faith (Galatians 3:26-27; 1 Corinthians 12:12-13). Paul saw this collection for the Jerusalem saints as a demonstration of unity (Romans 15:25-27; 2 Corinthians 8:4).
Seeking to be an exception to the divine ordinances does not serve the kingdom of God. Let us be diligent in fulfilling God’s righteousness.
Let your ordinances, O God, be precious to me, so that I may obey them readily and with joy.