October 21 – Prison Letters – Generosity: Meeting Needs and Meaningful Worship

Read Philippians 4:10-23

Much like you today, Paul lived at a time and in a culture where money was necessary.  As he traveled about on his missionary journeys, he was reluctant to ask those benefiting from his ministry for money.  In fact, he often chose to make tents and serve at his own expense (Acts 18:1-5; 1 Corinthians 9:6-15) instead of demanding “payment.”  The Philippian believers, however, were not only aware of his financial needs, they repeatedly gave financial gifts to him.  Those gifts met real needs (Phil. 4:16).  Those gifts made them partners in the gospel together with Paul (Phil. 1:5).  Paul was very grateful for the gift and the resultant blessing that the Philippians could expect from God (Phil. 4:17, 19).  Are you a faithful participant in God’s work through the local church and its missionary endeavors?

But their gifts did more than meet the apostle’s needs, enabling him to carry out his ministry with a singular focus.  Verse 18 gives us another perspective on giving.  As Paul described the financial gifts from these dear friends, he said, “They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.” (v. 18b)  In referring to their offering, he used terms that were reminiscent of the Old Testament sacrificial system where animals were offered to God.  But he also speaks of the pleasure that God finds in such gifts.  Even though money is essentially odorless, Paul describes it as a fragrant offering…like a sweet smelling perfume in the nostrils of God…when it is given with the right motives for godly purposes.  Even though God does not personally benefit from the gift given in the sense that He was running low on money, He finds great pleasure in our generosity.  God smiles in delight over such gifts.

You see, the divine perspective on your giving is an important one.  It moves your generosity into the realm of worship.  Your gifts can bring pleasure to the God of heaven.  Don’t lose sight of that important aspect of your generosity.  Consider that the next time (and each time) you give!

Steve Kern

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