Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen. (Philippians 4:14-20 ESV)
Paul is beginning to wrap up the letter to the Philippians. He is so glad that the gospel has taken root in their lives and that it is transforming them. The church there is not ashamed to be associated with Paul. He gives us a rare picture of what happened after he had to leave Philippi in Acts 16. He travels on to Thessalonica to start another church. Scholars estimate that Paul didn’t stay the Thessalonica long before he had to leave, perhaps a few weeks. Yet, even while he was in Thessalonica a group from Philippi had caught up with Paul and brought him some money to make sure he didn’t have any needs.
This small church had only been in existence for a month, maybe two and they are already taking up a collection to make sure that the gospel is able to go to the rest of the continent. They didn’t sit back and wait until they heard of a need. They were proactive in learning about where Paul was going next and meeting him there!
The church needed to stay and reach people in Philippi, but they could send helpers from time to time (like Epaphroditus) to help Paul and bring him financial support.
The gospel changes hearts toward generosity to provide for one another and reach the nations. Paul was a tentmaker and odds are that he didn’t have any outstanding financial needs, but the gift from the church at Philippi would allow Paul to accommodate guests and take some time away from tent making for the purpose of sharing the gospel with others.
Our family practices tithing where we give ten percent of what we make back to the local church. Even though a portion of our tithes go to help support our mission partners we also feel compelled to give above our tithe to worthy mission causes. We feel so strongly about this that we’ve set up piggy banks for our kids. When they get paid or get birthday money, etc. They put a portion in a giving bank, a portion in a savings bank, and are offered the opportunity to take some of what they would normally put in a spending bank and give to support our mission partners.
You may not be in a situation where you have a lot of money to be generous with yet, but you can practice generosity with what you have. My kids don’t get a ton of money because they are little but they are already learning to be generous in supporting the work of the gospel.
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