The Reading: Philippians 4:14-20
“… no church … giving … except you only;” (v.15) RSV
Hardly a letter of Paul’s goes by without the subject of ‘giving’ being mentioned. Is this because the churches were short of money? No. It was because followers of Jesus Christ have a duty and obligation to share with others some of the riches that God has bestowed upon them. “All things come from you, O God, and of your own do we give you”.
Now, of course, some of us are not experiencing ‘riches! Well, if that is the case then at this point in time we can only give very little. However, all of us should want to share with others who are in need or who are doing the Lord’s work.
Paul, however, was experiencing very little support for his missionary work. Most of the time he was quite prepared to fund it himself by doing his tent-making. But at other times he could barely support the work, and some of the time he was in prison! Only a few churches sent financial support to him, and one of these was the church at Philippi. But even they had been somewhat tardy: “now at length you have revived your concern for me …” (v.10).
Paul was anxious to distance himself from the idea that he was forcing them to give or was in any way making them feel morally obliged: “Not that I complain of want” (v.11), and “Not that I seek the gift” (v.17). If they were going to give he wanted it to be inspired by their own concern and love. And that is always the motivation for giving: concern and love.
Paul also is concerned that they give because they will become more fruitful in doing so. Also, God sees all that is done and it will redound to their credit (v.17).
It is a timely reminder that what is done on earth has results in heaven. We cannot simply measure results from what happens on earth. What we do will abide and indeed is part of building the eternal kingdom of heaven. Every little act, every cup of water given in the name of Christ will not be lost. Furthermore, we can never outgive God; he will always continue to supply our every need (v.19).
Grant me, O Lord, a giving and generous heart. Amen.
1 See a practical example of church giving.
2 See more of Paul’s teaching on giving.