Part 7: Joy of Giving and Receiving
Pastor Terry Inman
Most of us give because we are generous people. We get a sense of satisfaction out of sharing our resources. A leader in the first church I pastored at in Nebraska was probably one of the most successful businessmen in the community. He owned a Chevrolet dealership.
After making a huge contribution to a building campaign he said, “I give until it feels good!” I like that. It shouldn’t be a pain to give. It should be a source of great joy. The bible says “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Cor 9.7 NIV)
Contentment is satisfaction with what we have or where we are in life. It is something we have to learn. It comes by experience.
Cheerful (hilaros) is a word that describes someone that doesn’t have to be persuaded, they are already glad to give.
Paul concludes this very personal letter to the church in Philippi with a thank-you note for their emotional and economic support. In verse 15 he refers to their charitable giving as a “matter of giving and receiving”.
Giving is never expenditure only it’s always a matter of giving and receiving. Jesus said, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over…” (Luke 6:38 NIV)
Paul’s comments in these concluding verses of chapter four reveal four spiritual values that make our giving and receiving joyful. They include: caring, contentment, contributing and credit.
Let's take a look at the first value of Caring.
Paul says, “I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern (care) for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it.” Phil. 4.10 (NIV)
Giving especially to people or ministries begins with genuine care. We care about the need and we care about the people meeting the needs. Apparently Paul had received some recent support from the church. They had given to him before. They were among his strongest supporters.
It had probably been some time sense he had received support from them, not because they did not care but he was unable to communicate through a messenger. He endured a shipwreck on his long journey to Rome and then once there was imprisoned.
When they learned of his circumstance they were immediately responsive. This generous response led Paul to again express the theme of this book.
I rejoice greatly! Now he is not just happy for the financial help but the thoughtfulness. That’s why he calls it “concern”. Money is a means of showing we care. The word translated here “concern” actually means to think about, care about or be sensitive to another person’s need.
A couple weeks ago Dave and Beth Grant the founders of Project Rescue worshiped with us prior to leadership meetings in Monterey. We joined an group of church and business leaders called the “Freedom Alliance”.
The opening night, they shared with the group how blessed they were to be with us on Sunday. David was emotional as he talked about our prayer support for him with he was imprisoned. They have a lot of great supporters, but he specifically mentioned our prayer team laying hands on them and praying with prophetic words of encouragement.
Generosity begins with care! Speaking of that I just got this urgent email form Dr. Beth Grant,
"We just received an urgent prayer request from Lucy Donaldson in Delhi Project Rescue. They have lost staff with burnout, which puts incredible stress on remaining few staff. They had to change locations, and have had a resurgence of demonic bondage with one of the teenage girls. There has been much prayer over her, but no breakthrough, which is wreaking confusion and discouragement with the other girls and staff.
Please pray for the enemy’s power to be broken once and for all over her and the authority and Name of Jesus reign in her life and in the home. Much is at stake. Lucy, key staff and a couple of ladies from a local church have gathered to pray now even though its night there. They are desperate. The new director of the ministry is feeling very overwhelmed and needs to see God’s powerful hand at work as well as a renewal of strength and courage."
Let’s ask God today for a spiritual breakthrough and victory in this ministry in Delhi which is being battered on every side.
A second value that motivates our giving is Contentment.
“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.” (Phil 4.11-12a NIV)
Paul like any of us had needs. He was totally dependent on God and God’s people for his livelihood. At one time he supported himself as a tentmaker but that wasn’t possible now from prison. But it wasn’t receiving help that gave him joy it was the fact that they demonstrated their care.
He had learned contentment in any and all circumstances. Contentment is satisfaction with what we have or where we are in life. It is something we have to learn. It comes by experience. Paul had plenty of ups and downs.
“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. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (Phil 4.12b-13)
Stoic philosophers of time described contentment as self-reliance. They looked as life vary pragmatically and believed that one must learn to cope independently with what ever comes your way. Life is tough, just buck up!
Life is tough. It does throw us curve balls.
But Paul makes it clear that contentment comes from dependence on God who is the source of our strength and sufficiency. Trust in God in all circumstances is contentment.
Paul who had learned to live in joyful contentment wrote to Timothy. Godliness with contentment is great gain--For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many grieves. (1 Tim. 6.6-10 NIV)
Contented people are generous because they have learned that everything they have comes from God and it is at his disposal any time!
Next Paul talks about the value of Contributing.
He says, It was good of you to share in my troubles...
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; for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid again and again when I was in need. (Phil. 4.14-16 NIV)
Making a contribution is more than a check. It is impact and involvement. It is taking part, or “sharing” in something or someone. Paul tells, them “It was good for them to share in his needs.” The Philippian church accepted Paul’s need like it was their need and they did something about it.
This is where Paul calls their contribution a matter of giving and receiving. They had backed him from the time he first brought the gospel to them ten years earlier.
Philippi was the leading city of Macedonia. This was Paul’s first journey into Europe. He went there as a result of a vision. A man from the city was pleading, “come to Macedonia and help us”. (Acts 16) His first convert was a businesswoman named Lydia. She opened her heart and home. She was very influential and partnered in starting this church.
It wasn’t long before Paul and his companion Silas were jailed. An earthquake interrupted their worship at midnight. The gates opened and they and their inmates were freed from their chains. The guard panicked and was ready to take his life. Paul assured him that no one had escaped. The jailer dropped to his feet and asked how he could be saved.
He took Paul and Silas to his house for the night. The whole household was baptized and the next morning the Apostles were released. They all went back to Lydia’s house, Paul encouraged the church and left.
These people never forgot their beginnings. They knew what Paul faced and they knew how God intervened. They counted it a privilege to partner with him. They fully understood what “giving and receiving” was all about.
Actually the phrase translated “giving and receiving” is business terminology in the original language. It means contributions and receipts.
Paul continues this business conversation with a final value called credit.
Again he is talking about credits and accounts.
Caring, contentment and contributing builds good credit in the bank of heaven! “Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account.” (Phil.4.17 NIV)
The word for “credited” here is actually a term that means to super-abound or “increase!” He is talking about great investments with high returns. Lydia and her business partners would really relate to this.
Here’s how it works: First he talks about his receivables. Paul says, “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.” (Phil. 4.18)
Their contributions are of far greater value than money. They do more than meet his financial needs they are considered a sacrificial offering to God. He says, “they are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.”
In the Old Testament the Hebrew people were to make atonement for their sins by offering livestock on an altar of fire. The aroma of the burnt offering was said to be pleasing to God. (Lev.1.9 NIV) Christ's death on the cross for us is also considered a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Eph 5.2 NIV)
This elevates giving to incredible spiritual significance. What makes giving so pleasing is obedient, willing and generous hearts! Giving actually changes our investment of material wealth into eternal spiritual assets.
The credits we receive for giving are not just spiritual reserves in heaven. They contribute to an account that God draws on to meet our real needs.
Paul says, “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (Phil. 4.19-20 NIV)
No doubt these believers in Philippi gave when they had needs of their own. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. (Prov. 11.25 NIV) God promises us givers that we will be receivers of His glorious riches!
God blesses partners he can trust with wealth--people who have learned the value of caring, contentment, contributing and credit.
This is the Joy of giving and receiving!
Paul closes this Book of Joy with some final greetings and blessings. Imprisonment has not dampened His spirits. He spreads the joy that has even penetrated into Caesars Palace!
Greet all the saints in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me send greetings. All the saints send you greetings, especially those who belong to Caesar’s household. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen. (Phil. 4.21-23 NIV)
In the last seven weeks we have learned so much from the Apostle of Joy.
1. The Joy of praying for the people we love.
2. The Joy in suffering.
3. The Joy of Spiritual Community.
4. The Joy of being “in the Lord
5. The Joy going forward in God’s plans and purposes.
6. The Joy in challenging relationships.
7. The Joy of giving and receiving.
When the favor of God is on us. We can experience His joy in every circumstance, in all our relationships, in our accomplishments, in every challenge, and in all generosity.
Rejoice in the Lord always!