Sunday, July 1, 2012

God’s Provision (Philippians 4:14-20)

[14] Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. [15] And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. [16] Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. [17] Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. [18] I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. [19] And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. [20] To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.

This thanks Paul expresses for the Philippians’ financial support is extraordinary. He simply thanks them. He makes it clear that he does not seek their gifts, but rather the changed lives that they are partnering together to help change. He hasn’t “guilted” them into giving. He is not developing some doctrine of giving. It really is an insight to a community of believers devoting some of their money into a cause in which they believe.

Giving is a Biblical concept, but when you dig into Scripture you discover something that isn’t taught much. God does not demand that we pay a certain percent to a certain organization. In the new covenant, the tithe is obsolete as much as the temple is. Instead, Jesus taught that 100% of what a believer has belongs to God and should be used for His glory. And the person who decides how that is best done is the person under God’s leadership.

Back in Paul’s day, it is likely that the churches didn’t have huge budgets covering the cost of facilities, staff and utilities. They had the freedom and ability to give as much as they felt led to any cause that seemed worthy. They were probably poorer than today’s Western churches, but they had more available to give and they likely gave a lot more as well. It is a bit obscene to discover how much of a church’s budget is spent on itself these days. Very little is truly given in the way that Paul is so thankful for here.

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