(For the full sermon in audio format, just CLICK HERE.)
Today’s passage and context give us a scenario of generous giving, and a peek into the relationship between Paul and the folks at Philippi. It teaches us a few things about giving to God’s work and financially supporting Gospel ministry. But above all we need to keep in view that this passage, like all of Scripture, points us to Christ, and reminds us that true contentment is found in him.
14 Still, you did well by sharing with me in my hardship. 15 And you Philippians know that in the early days of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving except you alone. 16 For even in Thessalonica you sent gifts for my need several times. 17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the profit that is increasing to your account. 18 But I have received everything in full, and I have an abundance. I am fully supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you provided—a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. 19 And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. 20 Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen. Philippians 4:14-20
Ten years of faithfulness. That’s the length of time, at this point, that the Philippian church had been around , and off and on for that decade they had supported Paul financially. They “did well” Paul says, by sharing in his hardship. What does that mean? Were they with him in jail? Were they beside him when he was beaten or cold or starving? No – they shared in his hardship by helping him out with monetary gifts.
So from day one they had thrown in their lot with Paul and they did it joyfully! What about us? Has the Gospel set us so free in heart and mind that we gladly and eagerly throw in our lot with God’s work in a way that is related to our money? There is definitely a relationship between financial giving and gospel partnership.
Paul wants the Philippians to know that he isn’t fishing for another gift from them, he’s just celebrating the grace of giving that is so evident among them. Their giving is evidence of God’s work among them, of their unselfishness, and of their interest in making sure that people hear about Jesus.
The Bible has quite a bit to say to us about giving to Gospel ministry. Not only does today’s passage show us that giving is really participating in the work of the Gospel, but it is also:
1. Something we should do on a regular basis. In first Corinthians 16, Paul tells the people: “on the first day of the week, each of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income.”
2. That same verse also gives us some wisdom in regard to how much we give: “In keeping with your income.” Obviously Scripture encourages generosity, but you should also be wise. Don’t put your mortgage payment in the offering, but take a look at your income and set aside an amount to give. Some of us will give less, but some have room to give way more! We ought to give according to ability and income, and how our heart is stirred.
3. In 2 Corinthians 9, Paul says that each one should give “what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion.” Work it out in your own heart – how much will it be? Sometimes we may be compelled by the Spirit to give more than we’re used to.
4. The Gospel itself teaches us to give. This is not just the doling out of money, but the pouring out of your own life – and whatever that consists of – for the sake of others. Christ’s life and example model this generosity and selflessness. We give because Jesus is a giver!
So in summary: we should be giving on a regular basis in a way that makes sense with our budgeted income and in the way that the Lord leads us because Jesus is so wonderful!
To hear even more about what this passage has to say to us about our giving, just CLICK HERE to listen to whole message.)