14 Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. 15 Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; 16 for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid again and again when I was in need. 17 Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account. 18 I have received full payment and even more; I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. 19 And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
In all the things Paul had faced in his ministry, these Christians at Philippi helped him. They prayed for him, encouraged him, supplied him with things he needed, sent people from their church to give him support and sent financial assistance. They were “in” this ministry with Paul. What do you think Paul meant by verse 17? ( 17 Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account). There is a very important principle of spiritual maturity here that we often miss today. Paul wasn’t looking for “a gift” for the sake of having more for himself even though he had a right to ask for their support. He said he was looking for “what may be credited to your account.” How could giving a financial gift to support Paul be credited to their account? He wanted them to receive the blessing that comes from giving generously to build God’s Kingdom. WHO do you think “credits” your account (your life) when you give generously in helping us reach people for Christ? When God blesses you, it doesn’t get any better!
One of the key evidences of spiritual maturity is financial generosity. The Bible is clear that generous people will be blessed (Prov. 11:24-25). The Bible says God loves it when we give generously and cheerfully. 2 Corinthians 9:6-8 reminds us: 6 Remember this: The person who plants a little will have a small harvest, but the person who plants a lot will have a big harvest. 7 Each of you should give as you have decided in your heart to give. You should not be sad when you give, and you should not give because you feel forced to give. God loves the person who gives happily. 8 And God can give you more blessings than you need. Then you will always have plenty of everything—enough to give to every good work.
There’s a very interesting phrase in verse 18. Speaking of the financial gifts they sent him, Paul says: “They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.” Years ago I did a study on this passage and found that there is a simple phrase in the Greek Language that’s used only 4 times in the New Testament. The phrase talks about four specific things that literally please the heart of God. One of those is the sacrifice mentioned here; generous giving. The other three are: a life devoted to God (Rom. 12:1); praise (Heb. 13:15-16); and acts of kindness and sharing with others (Heb. 13:15-16). If you really want to please God, make these a part of your lifestyle. By the way, how are you doing with each of them?
If you were using the ENSPEC method of Bible Study we’ve talked about in our “REFUEL” series, what would you find in verse 19? You might want to pause and read it again. I find a “Promise To Claim”. I can count on the fact that God will supply my needs (not my greeds) through Jesus Christ. If I am faithful and wise in using what He’s given me, I can count on the fact that He will continue to meet my needs.
Great vision takes great sacrifice and the needs we have here at GFC are great. We are trying to reach our community and beyond for Jesus Christ. Ministry that impacts life-change is always costly. In light of this, how are you using your time – talents – and treasure. Are you generous in giving these assets to help build the Kingdom of God? I’ve never met a person who was generous toward God’s Kingdom and regretted it. It’s simple: you cannot out-give God!