Our passage for today is Philippians 4:14-23.
Today we are concluding our sermon series on the letter of Philippians. In these passage, Paul is ending his letter by thanking the church for sharing in his trouble and for their partnership in giving and receiving.
In times of Paul’s greatest need the church stood with him and sent him a gift offering to provide for all his need through brother Epaphraditus. And this was not the first time the church sent a gift, they did this at several occasions.
More than rejoicing in the fact that his needs were met, he rejoices for the increasing fruit the believers are going to receive because of their giving.
Here are a couple of observations we can gather from the passage.
We don’t know what exactly the gift was, it could be cash or maybe food, clothes etc. But in both cases we know for that money had to be collected.
For Epapraditus to take a huge risk with his life to deliver the gift and for Paul to say ‘I am well supplied’, the believe the gift must have costed a substantial amount.
For the church to contribute such a huge sum of money, every member of the church must have generously given.
Since we are now talking about money, let me also share some truths we need to know about money, especially in the church context.
– Whenever a donation or an offering is asked by a church leader, it is not because God needs our money, or that God’s church lacks anything. God is self sufficient and needs no man’s help to build His Kingdom, His Church.
– Everything we have belongs to God and we have no right to hold back even a paisa. We owe everything to Him and he has all the rights to take it away.
– When we are asked to give back a certain portion from what we receive from Him, God is protecting our heart from making money our idol.
In Matthew 6:24 Jesus said “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
Therefore, when we are asked to give, whether as an offering to meet church needs, or for missions, or to help a brother or sister in need. God is opening an opportunity for us to search our hearts and evaluate whether money has taken his place, whether we trust in money or in God, whether we see our security in money or in God.
A man or a women who gives generously to Gods work exhibits his/her trust in God. Secondly, it is also a way in which God brings about a balance in the manner in which money and the earthly resources are equally distributed among his children according to their needs and necessities.
God uses all kinds of people and all kinds of ministry to expand His glory and it is the responsibility of each child of God to generously participate in whatever measure they can contribute.
In the Old Testament, a large group of people called the Levite’s were called to do certain tasks in the temple which did not yield them any wages. And therefore others were asked to set apart one tenth of their wages as a contribution to meet the needs of the Levite’s.
We read that in Numbers 18:21 God says “To the Levites I have given every tithe in Israel for an inheritance, in return for their service that they do, their service in the tent of meeting” Giving to the need of the church and to Gods ministry is a mandate every child of God should carry in their heart.
As we are talking about the joy of giving, here are three reasons from this passage that should encourage us to be generous giver.
1. We give because God first gave
God is a generous giver.
In verse 19 “My God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” God is not holding back any good thing from us, and if there is delay from His end it is only for our good.
The greatest gift of all is even though we sinned against God and while we were still sinners, God gave his only son to die for us so that he can save us from eternal death. – He gave away His best to us.
Therefore when we are asked to give let us give from a grateful heart remembering His generosity towards us.
2. We give to receive increasing fruit
In verse 17 Paul writes, “Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit”, it affirms the fact that there is a reward that God gives to those who generously give.
In Luke 6:38 Jesus says “Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
Now, when we talk about receiving return gifts from God for our giving, we should also be careful not to do it with wrong motivation and expectations.
A lot of people when they give they give it as though the Kingdom of God is a stock market, where you systematically invest in ministries that you think will give high returns.
We don’t treat God that way. We have to careful of prosperity preachers who ask us to sow seeds in their ministries expecting high returns.
Therefore, before we give, it is important that we get plugged into a healthy gospel-centered church that help us grow and mature in the things of God that matters to our soul, allowing God to sanctify our heart and mind, destroy the idols of selfishness, boastfulness and pride.
God is not interested in our sacrifices if our heart is not in the right place. In Hosea 6:6 God is saying “I don’t want your sacrifices—I want your love; I don’t want your offerings—I want you to know me.”
When we give, we give with a right attitude, an attitude that is renewed and repaired by the influence of the Gospel. And when God sees the real heart of the giver he gives it back in full measure because God is not a debtor of man.
3. We give to increase our joy in Christ
As we read through verse 14 to 18 we see the joy in Paul’s heart. He was in trouble, he was in need, he needed encouragement, and he received all of that in full measure through the kind and generous gesture of the Church in Philippi.
There is a certain sense of joy that we experience, not only when we receive but also when we give.
In Acts 20:35 the author reminds the church about what Jesus said about giving, Jesus said “It is more blessed to give than to receive”
At Gathering, we don’t talk a lot about the topic of giving in the church, maybe because of the abuse of money in so called Christian ministries, but it doesn’t mean that giving is not important, in fact it is so very crucial.
A generous giving of time, money and resources to the church speaks a lot about our faith and attitude towards God.
As Elders of the church we speak out of our own lives, just like you all we too have full-time jobs, we do not take any salary from the church offertory, we provide for our own needs and equally participate in giving. What we are asking you to do is something we all do and and have experienced joy and blessings.
Therefore, I encourage each one of you to joyfully participate in the Joy of giving, it is not just a request but a mandate, a command from the Lord to give.