Stephen Caswell © 2004
Giving -- What You Don't Know
A man of great substance was once approached to contribute to a major financial campaign. The urgent need and compelling case were stated, and the call was made for his support. The man responded: I understand why you think I can give fifty thousand dollars. I am a man with my own business and, it is true, I have all the signs of affluence. But there are some things you don't know. Did you know that my mother is in an expensive nursing home? Well, no, we didn't know. Did you know also that my brother died, and left a family of five and had almost no insurance? No, we didn't. Did you know my son is deeply religious, has gone into social work, and makes less than the national poverty level to meet the needs of his family? No, we hadn't realized. Well, then, if I don't give any of them a penny, why do you think I'll give it to you?
Christian giving is a very touchy subject. Many Christians become offended when we talk about money. They tend to say, What has money got to do with Christianity? Yet 2350 verses in the Bible speak about money. How we use money is very important to God. The theme of chapter 4 has been the secure mind. Believers who rest in the sufficiency of Jesus Christ have the secure mind. Paul was content in Christ's sufficiency. He had learned how to be content with little or much. He knew that God would meet all of his needs in Christ Jesus. He could do all things in Christ's strength. Today we pick up the theme of Christian giving that Paul first touched on in verse 10. In today's passage Paul discusses: The Fellowship Of Giving, The Fruit Of Giving.
1. The Fellowship Of Giving
Philippians 4:10, 14: But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. Nevertheless you have done well that you shared in my distress.
Paul rejoiced χαίρω in the Lord and then thanked the Philippians for providing for his needs. The word care φρονέω in verse 10 means to think about, to consider or to regard. The Philippians had Paul on their mind. To have the mind of Christ is to consider the needs of others. They were genuinely concerned about Paul’s welfare. They had given much thought to how they might help him. The word shared that Paul uses in verses 14 and 15 is the same word translated fellowship in the first three chapters. As we have seen the word fellowship κοινωνέω means to have in common, συγκοινωνέω to share in company with. In verses 14-16 Paul describes their giving this way. A Commendable Ministry, A Committed Ministry and A Consistent Ministry.
a. A Commendable Ministry
Philippians 4:14: Nevertheless you have done well that you shared in my distress.
Firstly the Philippians giving was commendable. Paul thanked them for their concern that motivated them give. Verse 10 tells us they were concerned for Paul all along but had lacked the opportunity to help. The Philippians shared with Paul in his affliction by sending a love gift to meet his needs. Remember, Paul was under house arrest and therefore unable to work.
Acts 28:30-31 tells us that He had rented his own house and received all that came to him. The Philippians gift enabled him to pay for food and rent. Paul continued to preach Christ during this 2 year imprisonment. So the Philippians actually assisted him in his Gospel ministry.
In verse 15, Paul said that they had shared with him in giving and receiving. They shared what they had in common with Paul. They gave to Paul's ministry. But what did they receive from him? Spiritual things like the Gospel and God’s Word. Galatians 6:6 also teaches the principle of giving and receiving. Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches. The word share in Galatians 6:6 is the same word used in Philippians 4:15. It is commendable to support God's servants because ministers are feeding the Church with God’s Word. This involves supporting missionaries, pastors and evangelists. 1 Corinthians 9:14: says. Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.
b. A Committed Ministry
Phil 4:15: Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only.
Secondly their giving was committed. Although Paul had taught these things to many believers the Philippians were the only ones who practiced it. That is an indictment on the other Churches but a point of praise for the Philippians. Even though the other Churches didn't support Paul the Philippians were eager too. They appreciated his ministry. They saw his need and assisted him. Philippians 4:18a says: Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you. Paul was richly blessed by their gift. His own needs had been wonderfully met. He said he had an excess and was satisfied like an overflowing glass.
The Christian who tithes will be surprised:
(1) At the amount of money he has for the Lord’s work,
(2) At the deepening of his spiritual life in paying the tithe,
(3) At the ease in meeting his own obligation with the nine-tenths,
(4) At the ease in going from one-tenth to a larger percentage,
(5) At the preparation this gives to be a faithful and wise steward over the nine-tenths remaining,
(6) At himself for not adopting the plan sooner!
Ÿ The wise man does not lay up treasure; the more he gives the more he has. Chinese proverb
Ÿ If you don't have charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble. Bob Hope
c. A Consistent Ministry
Philippians 4:16: For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities.
The Philippians gave regularly to God's work. Paul shared how they sent him 2 gifts while he was serving at Thessalonica. This enabled Paul to concentrate on evangelism rather than work. Now that he was a prisoner in Rome they sent a third gift. You might think that the Philippians were wealthy saints like the Laodiceans. No, they were a very poor Church. Yet they gave consistently because it was important to them. They begged to help the poor in Jerusalem. 2 Corinthians 8:1-5: Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality. For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing, imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God.
After a great gathering of Christian youth, the offering was being counted. At the bottom of the offering, the counters found a picture of a teenage girl. They all made the same immediate assumption. Some boy had taken a girl's wallet, taken out the picture and thrown it in the offering basket as a practical joke. That's the kind of thing teenagers sometimes do. Then someone turned the picture over. This was written on the back. I have nothing to give, but I give myself.
It seems amazing that believers would beg for the opportunity to give to God’s work. The Philippians loved to give. Notice how their giving is called fellowship of ministry. Firstly, they gave themselves to the Lord and then they gave gifts to Paul and the poor. They begged Paul to be able to send a gift to the poor saints in Jerusalem. They were gracious, giving cheerfully and generously. Why were they so generous when they themselves had such great need? They had learnt the joy of giving. The Lord said that it is more blessed to give than to receive. Acts 20:35:
Who should give to the Lord's work? How consistently should we give? How much should we give? What do you do when bills come along? What do you do when sickness or holidays prevents you from attending Church? 1 Corinthians 16:1-2 helps here: Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come.
1. Who can give? Let each one of you lay aside something. All should give to God's work.
2. How often should you give? On the first day of each week. The early Church met together on Sunday just as we do today. This means we give regularly, every Sunday.
3. How do we give? You lay aside something, you store it up. The word lay aside τίθημι means to put, place, give up. Therefore, when you are paid you should set aside a portion for the Lord's work first. This is because it belongs to God. If you are absent because of sickness or holidays you store it up. Then you give it all when you return. To keep this for ourselves is to rob God.
4. How much do you give? As God prospers you. The Lord prospers you every week. Whenever we are paid whether weekly, fortnightly, or yearly. We should put aside a portion according to God's blessing first. You shouldn't give God what's left after you spend the rest on yourself.
Giving a tithe means nothing if God has enabled you to give 50 percent. -- John Byrd
Does Your Gift Represent You?
It happened one time after a pastor had made an appeal in church for a great and worthy cause, that a certain woman, a member of the church, came to him and handed him a cheque for $50, asking at the same time if her gift was satisfactory. The pastor immediately replied, If it represents you. There was a moment of soul-searching thought and she asked to have the cheque returned to her. She left with it and a day or two later she returned handing the pastor a cheque for $5,000 and again asked the same question, Is my gift satisfactory?
The pastor gave the same answer, If it represents you. As before, a truth seemed to be driving deeply. After a few moments of hesitation she took back the cheque and left. Later in the week she came again with a cheque. This time it was for $50,000. As she placed it in the pastor's hand, she said, After earnest, prayerful thought, I believe that this gift does represent me and I am happy to give it. Perhaps the words as God has prospered him, may take on new meaning for us.
a. Giving Is A Commendable Ministry. Are you involved? How much more could be done in evangelizing the world if Christians gave faithfully as God blesses them? Are you giving to the Lord's work? Do you support missionaries, evangelists and your Church?
b. Giving Requires Commitment. It doesn't matter what other believers are doing, we should give. It is between ourselves and the Lord. Are you committed to support the Lord's work?
c. Giving Should Be Consistent. Would you like your boss to pay you as regularly as you give to the Lord's work? Does your giving cost you? Remember God knows what’s left!
2. The Fruit Of Giving
As we looked at the fellowship of giving we saw how the Philippians received spiritual blessings from Paul and gave material blessings to Paul. This is the fellowship of giving and receiving. But there is another aspect of giving and receiving that Paul deals with here. If we give to the Lord's work we receive blessings from God too. Paul lists some of them here.
a. Abounds To Heaven’s Account
Philippians 4:17: Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account.
In verse 17 Paul is not being ungrateful for the Philippians gift. Instead he is very excited that God keeps a record of their gift in heaven. The utter unselfishness of Paul is indicated in this verse. He was more elated by their gain than by their gift. The word fruit καρπός means gain, profit, produce. Paul knew that the Philippians would be blessed for their generous gift.
The gift may have been used by the Lord's servant on earth, but God keeps an account of it in glory. God knows about every gift or service done for His kingdom. He keeps an accurate record and will one day reward such sacrifices handsomely. Jesus spoke to his disciples about this. Matthew 6:19-21: Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Epigram On Giving
• Giving to the Lord is but transporting our goods to a higher floor.
• When I have any money, I get rid of it as quickly as possible, lest it find a way into my heart.
• 30% of members of the church carry 80% of the financial load of the average U.S. Church.
As a youth DL Moody was a very enterprising young man. When he was about 19 he determined to gather together a fortune. In his first year he earned some $5000.00. He quickly developed his skills as a salesman and prospered. But then something happened that changed his direction completely. A Christian businessman asked him why he stopped pursuing his fortune when he was doing so well. He said that God had gotten hold of him and now he was pursuing Christ. He no longer cared about wealth but wanted to be rich in the next life. He invested wealth in heaven.
b. Acceptable Sacrifice To God
Philippians 4:18: Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God.
Not only was Paul pleased with the Philippians gift, the Lord was too. Paul describes it very vividly here. It was a sweet smelling aroma or fragrance. Like a beautiful perfume. It was an acceptable sacrifice to God. The term fragrant offering was used in Leviticus for an offering that pleased God. The Lord was pleased with their gift to Paul because really it had been given to Him. God delighted in this gift. As we saw earlier the Philippians had given generously, joyfully and fully. Such gifts are treasured by the Lord. It’s not the size of the gift given but the cost and devotion of the giver that matters to God. The widow’s two mites were more precious to God than the larger gifts given by the uncommitted Pharisees who didn’t make any real sacrifice.
The Philippians had given faithfully. In fact Paul used them as an example for others to follow. Paul summarizes the principles of giving in 2 Corinthians 9:6-8: But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. The more we give to the Lord's work the more He blesses and enables us to give still more. He may test us though.
c. Assurance Of God's Supply
4:19: And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
Bible College Illustration
When we went to Bible College we didn't have enough money each year. We were in fact about $7000.00 short. What would we do regarding giving? We had always given to the Lord's work and been blessed. We determined to give 10% of our income that first year. God met our needs. In the second year we increased our giving to 15% and then 20 % of all we received. Again the Lord met our needs. In our third we increased our giving to 25% of all we received. Again God met our needs. Although I must warn you that this type of giving requires faith.
The Feast Of First Fruits
At the Feast of First Fruits the Jews brought the first part of their harvest to the Lord. This required practical faith in God not just words. They trusted God to bless the rest of the harvest. It also showed their devotion to God. They put God first and showed it in this tangible way. If God isn’t first He usually ends up last. When they showed the Lord that they were trustworthy stewards He blessed them.
Warren Wiersbe paraphrases v 18 and 19 this way. You met my need and God is going to meet your need. You met one need that I have, but my God will meet all your needs. You gave out of your poverty, but my God will supply your needs out of His riches in glory! Because the Philippians had given sacrificially to meet Paul's needs he assured that God would meet all their needs. Many people quote this verse flippantly without realizing the conditions attached to it. It is only as we give faithfully to God that He will meet our needs. We are to be faithful stewards.
Malachi 3:8-10: brings this point out also. Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, In what way have we robbed You? In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, For you have robbed Me, Even this whole nation. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this, Says the Lord of hosts, If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.
I realize that we are not under law but under grace. We aren't required to tithe. Giving is a privilege not a commandment. However this principle still stands, God blesses those who give faithfully to Him. The Lord will meet our needs only as we give faithfully to Him.
d. Appreciate God's Ownership
Philippians 4:20: Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.
Why does Paul give glory to God at this point? Because ultimately it is God who meets all our needs. Paul rejoiced in the Lord for His provision even though the Philippians had sent the gift. This is because God is the one who enables us to give. God is the one who supplies our needs according to His riches in glory. In fact He is the one who owns it all anyway. We are only stewards of all that God has given us. David knew this well. David gave generously for the temple. Then the leaders and the people followed his example. Next, David praised God like this.
1 Chronicles 29:10-16: Therefore David blessed the Lord before all the assembly; and David said: Blessed are You, Lord God of Israel, our Father, forever and ever. Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, The power and the glory, The victory and the majesty; For all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours; Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, And You are exalted as head over all. Both riches and honor come from You, And You reign over all. In Your hand is power and might; In Your hand it is to make great And to give strength to all.
Now therefore, our God, We thank You and praise Your glorious name. But who am I, and who are my people, That we should be able to offer so willingly as this? For all things come from You, And of Your own we have given You. For we are aliens and pilgrims before You, As were all our fathers; Our days on earth are as a shadow, And without hope. O Lord our God, all this abundance that we have prepared to build You a house for Your holy name is from Your hand, and is all Your own. God owns everything and graciously lends it to us as stewards. He allows us the privilege of giving something back to Him. The depth of our devotion to God can be seen in our giving!
a. Abounds To Heavens Account - God keeps a record of our giving. How much wealth have you stored up in heaven? Are you sowing sparingly or bountifully?
b. Acceptable Sacrifice To God - Is God pleased with your giving? Do you give cheerfully? Do you give sacrificially, or the left overs? I don't need to know but God knows.
c. Assurance Of God's Supply - God meets the needs of faithful givers. Are you giving faithfully to the Lord's work? Does He meet all your needs? Have you proven God in this?
d. Appreciate God's Ownership - Do you realize that God owns everything anyway? We are only stewards for a time? Are you being a wise steward of God's possessions like the faithful servant who gained five talents for His Master?
Today we have looked at; The Fellowship Of Giving & The Fruit Of Giving.
If you are involved in the fellowship of giving then you will also receive the fruit of giving.
Philippians 4:19-20 And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.