Philippians 4: 15 – 23 (NLT)
“As you know, you Philippians were the only ones who gave me financial help when I first brought you the Good News and then traveled on from Macedonia. No other church did this. 16 Even when I was in Thessalonica you sent help more than once. 17 I don’t say this because I want a gift from you. Rather, I want you to receive a reward for your kindness.
18 At the moment I have all I need—and more! I am generously supplied with the gifts you sent me with Epaphroditus. They are a sweet-smelling sacrifice that is acceptable and pleasing to God. 19 And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.
20 Now all glory to God our Father forever and ever! Amen.
21 Give my greetings to each of God’s holy people—all who belong to Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me send you their greetings.22 And all the rest of God’s people send you greetings, too, especially those in Caesar’s household.
23 May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.”
Today is our last day looking at the Book of Philippians. It’s a small book, but packed with great things to think about – right to the very end.
As Paul closes his letter to the Philippians, he thanks them for being so generous. It appears as though the church at Philippi is more generous than most of the other churches. In fact, while Paul was in Thessalonica, the Philippians sent practical support several times. You would think the believers at Thessalonica might have helped Paul out enough, but we can’t judge since that new church may have been too small or the people in the church could have been very poor. But one thing we do know is that Paul is very grateful for the Philippians’ support. He calls it “a sweet-smelling sacrifice that is acceptable and pleasing to God”.
From the perspective of the people who are serving God, in what today we call “non- profit” vocations, support is so needed and appreciated. This would include missionaries like the Reaumes, the Potmas, and Becky Ferguson – all of whom LSA supports. These families have heard God calling them to work overseas among people who are struggling in Third World countries (Reaumes), and in a country that prides itself on being the most atheistic country in the world (Potmas and Becky). The fact that various churches and individuals support them makes their work possible. There are also organizations like Compassion International, Samaritan’s Purse, World Vision, etc. who need support to carry out the vision they have from God. And there are local organizations like Matthew House, the Downtown Windsor Community Collaborative, and so many others who serve those right on our doorstep who are in need in some way. These individuals and organizations are doing things we would like to do, but we all can’t actually do that work for whatever reason. God has called us to stay in Canada and live for Him in our workplaces and neighbourhoods.
I’m going to throw some ideas by you today for you to think about personally or to discuss with your partner. How can you support people who are working in some kind of place where they don’t have a salary from some company, but are where God has called them? Are there even other ways to be generous as well?
2 Corinthians 9:7 says, “You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” (NLT) In the Old Testament in the Mosaic Law, the Jewish people were asked to give 10% to support the priests from the tribe of Levi. That number is not carried over into the New Testament, although many churches advocate the idea of tithing 10%. The New Testament stresses generous and cheerful giving. What that amount should be is never given; it’s up to the individual believer to decide what generous giving looks like.
I know what it is like to live with a tight budget. For the twenty years while we raised our three girls, I was a stay-at-home mom. Living on one salary made staying within a budget very necessary. Then we also lived through the tumultuous times of frequent teacher strikes as the first contracts were negotiated – and every strike was a big drain on our finances. So, I am very aware that being generous for one person doesn’t mean the same amount of dollars as it does for someone else. However, this concept of being generous is definitely part of being a Christ follower. How can we not be generous when God was so generous with us – coming to live among us and to die for us? So, it’s up to each of us individually to figure out how generous we can be.
One of the places it’s important for us to support is our local church – whichever one we attend. All of the money we put aside for giving doesn’t necessarily have to go to the church, but we should be aware of the needs of our own church. We may also want to put aside money to sponsor a child with an organization like Compassion International. Or we may want to promise a particular missionary an amount of regular support.
During this pandemic time, think about what you can do. For those of us who continue to have a steady income, it is likely we are not spending as much money now. Just think – how much money are you saving on not purchasing gas for your vehicles? Perhaps we could use those savings to help someone else.
You may want to donate some money to support a particular fundraiser that comes to your attention. You may hear about a particular situation of a family that is facing a tough time, and decide to cut back in some area so you can help that family. There are organizations who are delivering goods and meals to people isolated in their home; you can volunteer to be the driver. Call organizations that you are interested in, and ask them if there is anything you can do to help. There are lots of ways to be generous with our money and time. What we have to do is be intentional about budgeting for that or agreeing to sacrifice for others. And we know that God sees that sacrifice as something He loves dearly.
So today, think about how generous you are. Can you make improvements, and if so, think about the areas where you could make a contribution – something that excites you, something that God’s Spirit puts in your mind. Make this a fun discussion with your family, and start a new adventure in your life with God.