READ | SERMON NOTES
Summary l Giving to God in His house of worship requires us to thoughtfully share and go in the same direction to His glory! There is a difference between thoughtful and thoughtless giving.
Paul had written (1) to update the Philippian church that Epaphroditus had recovered from a life-threatening illness, (2) to encourage them in their faith, and (3) to thank them for their support. This church was intentional and thoughtful in their giving. We can learn three things about thoughtful giving.
1. Genuine Concern
They were genuinely concerned for Paul’s wellbeing and thankful for the long-awaited opportunity to support him – true companions he could count on when in need. It was their way of acknowledging the salvation they had received with thanksgiving. (v10) They “profited” from their repeated “fragrant” offering (v17-18) being revived in their generous giving– encouraged, empowered, rejoicing in the renewal of their friendship with Paul. Their “abundant joy and extreme poverty overflowed in a wealth of generosity.” (2 Corinthians 8:2)
2.Committed Partnership to The Gospel (1:3-5)
They had a unique relationship with Paul, supporting him financially during his first trip to the province of Achaia. They were the “only church” Paul praised who shared with him, “It was kind of you to share my distress” (v14-15) which in Greek meant “going in the same direction”.
Participating in Pledge Sunday revives our concern for one another. Our giving is not limited to persons in full-time ministry, but to the advancement of the gospel of our LORD Jesus Christ.
3.Personal Growth in Christ
Paul was not seeking financial gifts but spiritual growth for the body of Christ. Having learnt to be content in any and every situation (v11-12), he knew his strength to do all things came from Christ. (v13). He warned that many Christians “live as enemies of the cross of Christ” heading for destruction – for “their god is the belly, and their glory is in their shame; their minds are set on earthly things.” But those whose “citizenship is in heaven” live “expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” ((Philippians 3:18-20)
The Philippians’ giving displayed their personal growth in Christ. To keep walking with God, we need to practice sacrificial giving, which has the spiritual power to grow our faith and shape us in Christ-likeness. The ‘S’ in the Wesley Discipleship model CORDS refers to sacrificial service that is costly and inconvenient. Our giving is to be “a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God (v18) – ultimately demonstrated by Jesus’ unconditional sacrificial love on the cross. We can give without loving, but we cannot love without giving.
How Can We Grow Our Ability to Give?
A.Save For the Work of Christ by putting aside and saving whatever extra we earn so as to be ready to give an invested, planned offering (1 Corinthians 16:1-2). Paul instructs us to plan our finances with giving in mind. It is good to save for the future, but we need to save for Christ as well.
B.Develop Sufficiency in Christ
Contentment is a state of happiness and satisfaction. (Oxford dictionary) For the Stoics, contentment is ‘self-sufficiency’. When studying Paul’s letter, Professor Brian Tabb highlighted the difference between Stoic and Christian contentment: “Christian contentment is not self-sufficiency, but Christ-sufficiency in any and every situation. Paul’s secret to contentment is recognising and relishing the sweetness, sufficiency and strength of Christ even in the most unsavoury situations.” Paul had learnt to live a life untethered to money or popularity.
On the contrary, many souls are tethered to creature comforts and attachments. What attachments are you nailed to? If we are to committedly carry the cross like Jesus did, we need to identify any attachments that hinder us from giving. To redirect our worship from our bellies to God Himself, we need to set our minds on heaven, and develop Christ-sufficient contentment in our lives.
As we give financially to God’s work, we keep alive in us the flame of spiritual fervour to spread the gospel message – enabling our church, missionaries and partners to shine as God’s light in the world.
PONDER | REFLECTION QUESTIONS
- What is the reason for Paul’s joy in Phil 4:10?
- Read Phil 4:10-13. What did you learn about a life of contentment from Paul? What was the secret to his contentment and strength?
- What keeps someone from living a life of godly contentment?
- Read Phil 4:10; 14-20. How did the church in Philippi demonstrate genuine concern for Paul?
- How does thoughtless and thoughtful giving impact our friendships?
- Gospel Partnership – Share about the joys and challenges of a ministry which you are familiar with. Consider allocating time to pray for the ministries mentioned at the end of the small group time.
- What difficulties or hindrances do you usually personally face in your discipleship journey to tithe? How may the group pray for you or keep you accountable in this practical commitment to God?