‘’You can be sure that God will take care of everything you need, his generosity exceeding even yours….’’ The Message.
I had often heard the famous nineteenth verse quoted out of context, but a light came on for me when a lecturer in Bible College pointed out that we must not take this ‘jewel’ out of its ‘setting’. It is not a carte blanche promise to all Christians. It was, in the first instance, a statement made to generous Christians; those from Philippi who had given bountifully to help Paul (18; see also 17).
Jesus Himself said:
‘’Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.’’ (Luke 6:38).
‘’Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity.’’ The Message.
A man who gave away a lot of money, but still had a lot was asked by someone how this could be. ‘’Well,’’ he replied, ‘’I keep shovelling it into the Lord’s garden and He keeps shovelling it back into mine. But He’s got the bigger shovel!!’
Here are some further thoughts on today’s Philippians passage:
- If people have blessed you let them know you appreciate them (14; see also 15, 16). Gratitude should not go unspoken. As God remembers our good deeds, so let us hold in mind the goodness of others towards us (Hebrews 6:10). Expressions of appreciation oil the wheels of social interactions. People can feel taken for granted more quickly and easily than you may imagine. Paul wanted his benefactors to be blessed and rewarded for what they had done (17). ‘’Not that I’m looking for handouts, but I do want you to experience the blessing that issues from generosity.’’ The Message.
- We can ‘’share’’ in people’s troubles by helping them in practical ways. (It doesn’t necessarily mean that we will have the same troubles.) Here is a way to get alongside people and help them. We can put our hands into our pockets and give.
- Realise that missionaries need support (15, 16). (At the same time, we know that Paul learned to prove the sufficiency of Christ in such lean times: 10-13.)
- Christian giving is an act of worship (18b). They had given to Paul, but fundamentally they were giving to God. He was pleased with their ‘’sacrifice’’. It smelled good to him. ‘’The gifts you sent with Epaphroditus were more than enough, like a sweet-smelling sacrifice roasting on the altar, filling the air with fragrance, pleasing God no end.’’ The Message.
A Bible text is like a grand old house. We need to view it in relation to its grounds; its surroundings. We cannot expect to prove the truth of (19) if we are stingy!
Prayer: Help me Lord to be a generous person, worshipping you with my giving.