[16:1] Now concerning the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do.  On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come.  And when I arrive, I will send those whom you accredit by letter to carry your gift to Jerusalem.  If it seems advisable that I should go also, they will accompany me. 1 Cor. 16:1-4 (ESV)
Paul now turns to more practical matters concerning his upcoming visit to Corinth. He is taking up a collection to bring to the saints in Jerusalem, who were stricken with poverty having forsaken everything, family, friends, possibly even employment for Christ. Not by their own choice, this was a cross laid on them on account of Christ. Becoming Christian they were ostracized by the community. Even today in some communities Christians know what this is like. They are baptized in the Christian faith, and their families abandon them. Their bosses find an excuse to fire them, or pass them over for promotion. Others do not hire them because they don’t belong to the local ward. It happens. But God never gives us more than we can handle.
Christians are bound together in Christ, so they take care of each other, even as they work for the well fare of non-Christians. We do not show the love of Christ, by forsaking those who do not believe. We are to love our enemies. We should be just as concerned about the welfare of the Muslim in our midst, as we are the Christian. This is one reason I have no qualms for participating in the fight against so called Christians committing mass genocide of Muslims in former Yugoslavia. Even knowing that most Muslims would be disinclined to do the same if the tables were turned. But this does not mean we should not be concerned about our fellow Christians around the world who are being persecuted by Muslim aggression in places like the Sudan. We need also take care of our own. We are one body. We commune with these Christians every Sunday as we all partake of one loaf, and one cup. So we should also support them in their work and in their plight.
Paul gives practical advise on how to do this. There is no command here to tithe, or go above and beyond tithing. Only to put aside each week as you have prospered. Give what you can, when you can each week, as you have prospered. That being said, I do believe that most Christians are very poor at doing this. Studies show that Christians give on average less than 2% of their income to the church and other charities. Most of us spend much more on dinners out, movies, television and other gadgets than we would ever consider putting in the offering plate. There is nothing wrong with these things in and of themselves. I myself spend money on these things. But we should really take and examine our income, to see what we can give to the church first. The souls of others do actually depend on it. It costs money to manage a church so people can hear the word of God. Pastors and missionaries need salaries so they can be available to their congregations and communities at large in times of distress, and so they can more properly devote themselves to prayer and the word, and yet still feed their families. Facilities have overhead, and often need improvements just as we remodel our homes. It costs money to do charity work in our own communities, and around the world. And through our offerings we show the love of Christ to all the world.