Giving and Receiving
It has been an incredible journey through the book of Philippians the last several weeks.
We began this study back in January and we are finally bringing it to a close this morning.
My prayer is that as we’ve studied this letter, that you have seen the themes of unity, joy, and love throughout and that ultimately, the letter written to the Philippians is about Jesus.
At the end of this letter, we learn even more about the church of Phillipi and the compassion they had for others.
Throughout the history of the early church, churches we read about in the NT were known for something.
Sometimes its a good thing and sometimes its a bad thing.
Romans: We see a picture of a church that was stood out for it’s faith.
Ephesus: Known for it’s hard work.
Corinth: Known for its division and moral laxity.
Thessalonica: doctrinal disputes.
When we look at the Church of Philippi, we see a positive distinguishing characteristic.
The church at Philippi was known for being the example of Christ in the way they showed compassion and stewardship.
Now we know that the church at Philippi was not perfect. However, they strived to honor the Lord in the way they used their resources to bless others.
As Paul concludes his letter to the church at Philippi, we are going to read him pouring out his heart to the church while teaching them some important lessons as he concludes the letter.
I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. 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. Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me greet you. All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
Oftentimes we can look over the ending of a letter and neglect to see the importance of it.
We cannot skip over what Paul is teaching the church at Philippi in these verses because there are some practical application for our lives’ as believers.
I believe that the ending of this letter wraps up much of Paul’s aim in teaching the Philippians thus far.
In fact, there are six things that the Apostle Paul teaches from his closing.
Gratitude (V 10)
Paul gives a last thank you to the believers at the church of Philippi and this time he rejoices in the Lord for other believer’s coming alongside him and helping him.
Paul rejoicing in the Lord encourages these believers because Paul’s ultimate goal in all of his ministry was to magnify the name of the Lord and now he is praising God for the church at Philippi and the sacrifices they have made to take care of him.
While studying this passage, I was taken back by Paul’s words toward the end of the verse: “You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity.”
After doing some research, this could either mean that it was due to the church’s poverty or the fact they had no access to Paul for why the gifts they sent Paul may have been delayed.
Paul notes though that they were concerned or cared for Paul and although the gift they sent him might have been delayed, they still had concern for Paul all along.
Last week, it was so incredible to have Karlie Hale with us from One Love Community Church in Cleveland, OH. If you didn’t know, we have a partnership with the church. We are sending our second team there this summer, we’ve collected gloves & scarfs for the church, and I’m praying the Lord will open up other opportunities to partner with them.
One of the most encouraging things about Karlie coming was he sharing the stories and the impact that One Love is having on their community and he was genuinely thankful that FBA has come alongside them to help spread the gospel.
That is what Kingdom work looks like. We partner with brothers and sisters not only in Cleveland, but around the world in order that people may hear the Gospel preached and come to faith in Christ.
We should be grateful to even have the opportunity to partner with other believer’s to spread the Gospel.
Even more than that, we should be thankful for when others bless us.
It can be as simple as saying “Thank You” or writing a “Thank You” note, but if someone has blessed you, make sure to thank them because they are a gift of God.
Believer’s show gratitude in a way that points to the goodness and grace of God.
You can practice this today. If there is someone in this room that has blessed you or anyone that has blessed you recently. Go to them today and Thank them. Express your gratitude to them.
Contentment (V. 11-13)
Contentment (V. 11-13)
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
One of the most quoted verses by athletes is “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
Our student ministry went to a conference this past Fall called “Hearts on Fire”
Tim Tebow was the keynote speaker and talked about wearing that verse on his eye black for every regular season game that year.
There’s nothing wrong with an athlete holding to that verse but when you take that verse by itself, it may sound like the verse is saying we can anything we want because Christ strengthens us.
When the team went to the championship, he decided to change to and that night, there were over 94 million people that googled during that game.
It’s a really cool story, and God gets the glory for so many people
I want us to look at this verse as it appears in context because it is referring to something a little different than most people think.
Paul’s goal in these three verses in to teach true contentment.
He is responding to the gift the church of Philippi had sent him but he wants them to know that his ultimate contentment is in Christ.
Notice Paul’s statement in V. 12: I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. Whether in the great times or whether in the hard times, Paul has learned to place his contentment where it should be and that is Jesus.
What an incredible idea, because in all honesty, when I go through a trial and a difficult situation, I do not look at it as a blessing at the time. However, there have been difficult circumstances in my life that have caused me to depend more and more on Christ and because of that I am a stronger believer.
Listen, you might be going through a tough time right now. Whether it’s at work or family or friends or just life in general. Find your contentment in Christ.
You may be beyond blessed right now. Maybe you’re coming off the best week of your life. Don’t trust in yourself or your own abilities. Find you contentment in the Lord.
God often leads us to places of blessing and places of difficulty to bring us to a place where we can trust Him above all.
We’ve all had different paths in this life. We’ve all struggled with different things and we’ve all been blessed with different things but we must come to agreement that God is on His throne and we can all find our ultimate satisfaction and contentment in Him.
So this leads us to 4:13 “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
When we look at that verse in context, we do not see that we can do anything in regard to a sport, a talent, you fill in the blank.
What we see is Paul saying that he has learned to be dependent on Christ in the good times and the bad times.
God may not give you what you want but that’s ok, because He always knows whats best and He is working out his Will in your life through the good times and the hard times.
Reliance upon Christ grows stronger and stronger with our life’s situations, whether that be when everything is positive and encouraging or when everything seems tough and you feel like quitting.
My encouragement for you today from this verse is. “Don’t give up.”
Satan will try and make you feel defeated and try and steal your joy but Paul teaches in this verse that Christ is our strength and He is always working in and through us no matter what.
Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
What an incredible promise we have this morning. God will never leave nor forsake us.
His promises hold true for us today and he will always be with us even when we may feel he is not.
So Paul teaches these believers contentment.
Let’s look at the next concept we see Paul describing and that is Partnership:
Partnership (V 14-16)
Partnership (V 14-16)
Partnership (V 14-16)
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.
These verses highlight the special relationship that Paul had with the church at Philippi.
Early on in Paul’s ministry when he left Phillipi, although the church was young, they partnered with him by supporting him in advancing the Gospel and planting other churches.
The church could have easily been upset with Paul for leaving but instead they had a Kingdom mindset and supported Him as he left to do true Kingdom work.
FBA has several ways we partner with others that are taking the Gospel to areas that have not been reached with the Gospel.
Cleveland, OH as I mentioned before, Leslie & Jeff Vanvactor in Honduras, The cooperative program is in our budget to give to and it supports missionaries all over the place. It’s encouraging to be part of a giving church but we must never grow content with what we do but look for new ways and new opportunities to partner with others.
One of the commentaries I was reading on this verse gave a warning though that it’s so easy to throw money at partnerships, but praetorships are more than a financial sacrifice.
It’s interesting but many churches are moving to the idea of being a “Partner” instead of a “Member.”
I’m not saying it’s wrong to call those that join a church a member because that is what we do at FBA but the idea of a partner is someone who is involved in the work of the church in partnering with others instead of having the mentality that they are at a church to only benefit from the ministries offer and not get involved.
There’s a church that has a really cool saying “Membership means Ministry.” That’s the idea that if you are a member, you are expected to be involved and use your gifts and talents to serve the church in some type of capacity.
When we have a discover FBA class, we go over the idea with new members that we expect all of our members to be involved in ministry at FBA and use their gifts to serve the Lord.
That is not just a feel good thing. It’s a Biblical concept.
teaches the importance of using our gifts to serve the body and that the body of Christ is made up of a variety of people with a variety of gifts and the body is ineffective when the parts are not working properly.
We cannot have the mentality that someone else will do the work and we will sit back and relax. We must have an all together mindset because that is what God wants us to do to partner with one-another to accomplish the goal of having pure fellowship and reaching others.
If you do not have a place you are serving on a weekly basis, see me after the worship gathering and I’ll find you a spot. We have first impression team openings, nursery team openings, kitchen team openings, Children’s Grow Group teacher openings.
My prayer is that we will all see being involved at FBA means using our gifts to serve others. through partnerships.
So partnerships, now Paul highlights fruitfulness.
Fruitfulness (V 17)
Fruitfulness (V 17)
Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit.
Paul carefully teaches the principle of the idea of giving and receiving in this one verse.
The church at Philippi had given Paul a gift, but he quickly told him the gift was not the thing he was more concerned about but rather he was encouraged by the fruit of the church and the fruit that the church would help produce by their giving.
Back in we see Paul pray this for the church:
filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
Now he is highlighting one of the fruits of the church at Philippi: Their generous giving.
We see the fruit from this church that loved the Lord by providing for Paul. The Church at Philippi may not have ever known what Paul did with the money or how it was used for ministry, but they gave faithfully and they trusted that the Lord would use it.
Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
When we give to the Lord’s work, we are giving from a heart that desires Him more than anything else.
God will honor a faithful giver.
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
You may not see the fruit of your faithfulness while on earth but when you give faithfully to the mission of God, he will bless you.
I shared a story in a sermon a few months ago about a man in my church while I was in college that gave me a large donation to attend a mission trip to Inner Mongolia.
I want you to think of how cool that was. He gave me this gift and I was able to go to Inner Mongolia and share the Gospel with college students. I have no idea how the Gospel may have gone out from that but that man’s financial gift may have produced incredible fruit that he or I may never see but God used him.
We must trust that when we give faithfully, God will bless it and use it for His glory.
So Paul teaches this idea of fruitfulness, now let’s move to the fifth concept in worship.
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.
Not only did the gift the church at Philippi sent produce fruit but it was pleasing to the Lord.
Paul takes it back to Old Testament language when he refers to a fragrant offering and a sacrifice.
This verse also aligns with
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
The church of Philippi’s sacrificial giving was pleasing to the Lord much like the sacrifices in the OT.
We ultimately give because we cherish the Lord and we want to worship God by giving back what’s already His.
When we take time in our worship gatherings to collect offering. It’s not just to routinely pass a plate every week. It’s just as much a part of the worship service as the music or the preaching.
We worship God by giving and we give because God gave us the ultimate gift through his son Jesus.
Giving is a way we can say: “God, I treasure you above anything else and I’m going to prove that in the way I give back to you what’s already yours.”
Growing up, there was a time where my dad was between jobs and times were tight financially. However, my parents taught me the value in giving even in the hardest times. I fully believe God blessed that.
My parents worshipped the Lord through their giving even when it was not always easy to do so.
You may be thinking you can’t afford to give anything but according to God’s word “You can’t afford not to give,” because it’s an act of worship.
Don’t hear me say you must give this percentage or this amount, God’s word instructs us to give because it’s a way we worship God.
Paul never mentions the amount the Church sent him as a gift but writes more about their willingness to give.
God loves a cheerful giver.
Let’s look at the last concept that Paul discusses.
Faith (V 19-20)
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.
Paul has faith that God will supply for the needs of the church at Philippi according to His riches.
All throughout this letter, Paul reminds the Philippians of where their faith should be. It’s not themselves, it’s not in talent or how healthy the church was but to place their faith in Christ Jesus.
If their faith was in anything else, it would fail.
Paul wanted the church to place their trust in God because he is the ultimate provider.
He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
One commentator I read put it clearly. God doesn’t give to our greed but he gives to our need.
Sometimes what we want and desire isn’t really a need but a want. It’s amazing at how we often neglect to see how truly blessed we truly are.
All of us have clothes on, we all had a vehicle bring us here this morning, we will hopefully enjoy food after the worship gathering, we will go home this afternoon and have a roof over our head.
Thinking of those basic necessities, God is good… Amen.
We have more than we can ever imagine and yet we oftentimes want more and more.
We must place our faith in God not only because of the gifts he gives us but because of who He is.
V. 20 puts it best.
To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.
We give Him the glory forever because He is worthy.
So we see Gratitude, Contentment, Partnership, Fruitfulness, Worship, and Faith as distinguishing characteristics of a follower of Christ.
Ultimately, Paul points this church to the example of Christ and desires for the church at Philippi to look to Jesus as the ultimate source of unity, humility, and joy.
Paul closes out the letter with a powerful prayer:
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
He opens and closes this letter with the idea of grace and prays for grace over this church.
We know that grace is a free gift and that gift of grace is given by our Lord Jesus Christ.
The only reason we can gather as a church body this morning is because of God’s grace through Jesus. It’s everything for us.
Without it, we would have absolutely no reason to be here, no reason to worship, no reason to pray, no reason to strive for unity.
Jesus is Paul’s topic throughout the letter to the Philippians and it is so fitting that he ends this letter by asking for grace in the Lord Jesus for this church.
My hope and prayer is that through this study on the book of Philippians, we see the grace of Jesus.
We cannot hold this grace to ourselves but we are to pour it out to one another as we reflect Christ to one another inside the church body but also pour it out as we take the beautiful news of Jesus to those outside the body of Christ in order that they may be saved and adopted in the God’s family.
Church, let’s live and celebrate the wonderful grace we have been given through Jesus Christ not just when we gather on Sundays, but when we leave this building.
Grace it too good and too sweet to keep it to ourselves. Let’s look at the example of the Philippians and share it as often as we can.
When we do that, we will point others to a man who is worthy of all honor, glory, and praise and that man’s name is Jesus.
Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus.