Joyful Thanks Living - Bible study
part 6 of 10
Partners in Giving
10I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
God’s Grace Leads to Contentment
“Christian contentment is not based on changing external circumstances, but on an unchanging relationship with the Lord. When a Christian has plenty, he can enjoy it as a gift of God. When a Christian has little, he can rejoice in the treasure he has in Christ and the treasure which is stored up for him in eternity. In all circumstances he can be content. When he endures hardship, he is following in the footsteps of his Master, who humbled himself and became obedient unto death. When he rejoices in the blessings of God, he is following the one who is seated at the right hand of majesty.”
“But such contentment is not a natural endowment. Paul twice stresses that he had learned how to be content in all circumstances. None of us was born content. Brief observation of any baby or small child demonstrates this truth all too well. God had taught Paul the secret of contentment through the teachings of his Word and through Paul’s experience of God’s grace.” (John Brug - WLQ)
Partnership Under All Circumstances
“Another attitude which makes giving and receiving a joy is ability to adjust to circumstances. This attitude is vital to the recipient so that he can freely enjoy abundance and even surplus, and so that he can also adjust to tight circumstances without grumbling and selfpity. This ability to adjust is vital also to the giver so that he can remain generous even when times are tough. If he can adjust his own lifestyle to hard times, he will not focus all his cutbacks on his giving to others.”
(John Brug - WLQ)
14Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. 15Moreover, 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; 16for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid again and again when I was in need. 17Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account. 18I 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.
19And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. 20To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Not the Gift, but the Heart
“Paul was deeply grateful to the Philippians for their thoughts of him and for their gift, and he was lavish in his thanks. …He wanted the Philippians to pause with him and see this gift of theirs in its proper perspective. He wanted them to know that there were certain things about their giving of the gift that were even more important than the gift itself. …As generous as their gifts to him were, however, Paul reminds the Philippians that the truly important thing about any gift is not the gift itself but the heart of the giver. Above all, it was because they had given their gift in the right spirit that Paul was overjoyed.”
(The People’s Bible pages 97 - 99)
Like Sweet Incense
“The Lord was also pleased with their gifts. He regarded them like the sweet-smelling incense offered to him by the Old Testament believers. Our gifts also are like sweet-smelling offerings to the Lord if—but only if—they are given out of hearts filled with genuine faith and love for him.”
(The People’s Bible page 99)
“It was good of you to share in my troubles” (Philippians 4:14
“Although Paul could have been happy even without the Philippians’ offering, their offering was good because it was an expression of the Philippians’ love for God and their fellowship and partnership with Paul in his suffering for the sake of the gospel. By this action the Philippians were standing side by side with Paul in his tribulation. All those who toil for the gospel and all those who support them stand side by side as partners in God’s work (He 10:33).” (John Brug - WLQ)
“Motives are weighed by the LORD” (Proverbs 16:2).
God is concerned with our hearts regarding all we think or do. Are we acting out of love for God or for selfish reasons?
“Their offering was pleasing to God because they were his children through faith in Christ Jesus (1 Pe 2:5; He 11:4). God valued their offering the way parents value the crude pictures drawn by their first grader or the dandelions picked by a little child. The pleasure is not in the intrinsic value of the gift, but in the love which it expresses. Giving is a joy when we are confident that God is pleased with the offerings which we bring as his children in Christ. It is this attitude above all others that makes giving and receiving a joy.” (John Brug - WLQ)
Partnership In Giving
“Financial stewardship can flourish only among people who realize that they share fellowship in the faith and partnership in the gospel. Certainly faith and love for Christ are the only essential prerequisites of God-pleasing giving, but a congregation’s love and esteem for its pastor and spiritual leaders are also very important factors in joyful giving. Giving can hardly be a joy if Christians regard the leaders who are receiving their offerings as dictators, free-loaders or employees."
"When givers do not trust those who are receiving their offerings or when they are suspicious of the use being made of the offerings, it is very difficult to find joy in giving. It is hardly a coincidence that the Corinthian congregation which had so many problems, including some problems with their feelings toward Paul, also seems to have had problems with its giving for others. Nor is it surprising that the Philippians, who were strong in love and affection for their leaders, were also leaders in generous giving. When pastors and people regard each other as partners in the gospel, financial stewardship can be practiced in a setting of mutual esteem, shared love of the gospel and shared joy in the work of the gospel.” (John Brug - WLQ)
Like a mighty army moves the Church of God;
Brothers, we are treading where the saints have trod.
We are not divided, all one body we,
One in hope and doctrine, one in charity.
Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before.
(Christian Worship hymnal, 537 v.2, public domain)
Let Us Pray:
Heavenly Father, grant me contentment in all circumstances. I know I can do everything through you, because you give me strength. Lead me in my daily battles with the devil and my sinful flesh. Give me a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within me. Amen.
For additional study: “The People’s Bible – Philippians” pages 95 – 101 (Philippians 4:10-23)
Brug, John F. (1989). The Principles of Financial Stewardship in Paul’s Letter to the Philippians
. Vol. 86 #3 Wisconsin Lutheran Quarterly. Journal edited by Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary.
Kuschel, Harlyn J. (1986). Philippians, Colossians, Philemon
. The People's Bible. Northwestern Publishing House.
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