“As it is written, ‘He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little had no lack.’ ” 2 Corinthians 8:15
The apostle Paul, while writing to the Corinthian church concerning their participation in the support of the saints, quotes from the book of Exodus referencing the gathering of the manna for the daily needs of the nation of Israel during their desert wanderings.
In the provision of the manna by the LORD, Moses was directed to advise the people of the precepts concerning the gathering of it. The precepts are found in Exodus sixteen, verses sixteen through nineteen. “This is what the LORD has commanded, ‘Gather of it every man as much as he should eat; you shall take an omer apiece according to the number of persons each of you has in his tent.’ And the sons of Israel did so, and some gathered much and some little. When they measured it with an omer, he who had gathered much had no excess, and he who had gathered little had no lack; every man gathered as much as he should eat. And Moses said to them, ‘Let no man leave any of it until morning.’” In God’s precepts we also see the principles. First, the people had to gather what they needed. Associated with God’s provision is our participation. The LORD expected the Israelites to do the work necessary to bring the food into their tent. The apostle Paul had through the Spirit expounded upon this principle in the letter to the Thessalonians. “For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone will not work, neither let him eat. For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread.” (2 Thes. 3:10-12) You’ll notice though that those who gathered provided for the number of the persons in their tent. To “not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever.” (1 Tim. 5:8) Some will look at these verses and say, “See, all I need to do is provide for myself and family and I’ve fulfilled the will of God.” True, in a partial sense only. God’s concern has been and continues to be that all His people have what they need, including those who cannot fend for themselves such as widows, orphans, and the poor. Thus the teaching throughout the Old Testament. With these principles the New Testament agrees. “And let our people also learn to engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs, that they may not be unfruitful.” (Titus 3:14) Brethren, isn’t the church of Christ the tent, the “tabernacle” of God? (Acts 15:16) Yes! Isn’t there then the opportunity, yea the responsibility, to share with those in the tent that are unable to gather for whatever reason for their own needs, that which God has allowed us to gather? Absolutely. Whether you’ve gathered much or little. The principle is that it’s acceptable to give or share from what a person has, not according to what he/she does not have. (1 Cor. 9:12) Thus Paul’s commendation of the Corinthians desire to participate. The “small miracle” God worked everyday among the Israelites was the ability to insure all had exactly what they needed in their tent. Through our sharing of what the Lord has given us to gather today, the Lord can work miracles to insure we have what we need as well as those in need. Do we have the faith to believe it? Now let’s consider Jesus’ instructions when asked by one of His disciples to teach them to pray (Luke 11:1). Verse three of Luke eleven He says, “Give us each day our daily bread.” It should be fairly apparent to us that Jesus’ hearers would make the connection that He was alluding to the principle of God providing for the daily needs of the nation Israel in the wilderness. God’s promise and precept to the faithful is He will provide what you need for each day. This is buttressed by Jesus’ statements concerning anxiety as recorded in Matthew 6:25-34, where He closes by saying, “Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself.” We are also then cautioned about fixing our “hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.” (1 Tim. 6:17b) We are exhorted “to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share.” (1Tim 6;18) See, the Lord will take away that which you depend upon in order to turn you back to depending upon Him. Ah yes, to give is better than to receive. Amen?