Sunday, August 16, 2020

"Giving and Receiving" [Matt's Messages]

“Giving and Receiving”
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
August 16, 2020 :: Philippians 4:14-20

I always feel a little funny teaching you on the topic of Christian giving, giving to the work of the gospel, especially encouraging you to be generous.

I feel a little funny because I am often on the receiving end of the “giving and receiving” relationship.

You’re often giving, and (as a vocational gospel worker) I’m often receiving.

It’s not hard for me to say "thank you" for your giving. I am very grateful, and like Paul said last week in verse 10, “I rejoice greatly in the Lord” for your generosity. I know that’s from God, and as a frequent recipient, I am very thankful.

But it’s much more...awkward to encourage you to keep giving, to grow in your Christian generosity. It’s harder to encourage you to give and to give more.

Well, I think that the Apostle Paul was feeling much the same awkwardness as he wrote the end of this missionary letter to his joy and his crown, his beloved church friends at Phillipi.

Paul wants to thank them for their gift, and he wants them to keep on giving to the work of the gospel.

But he wants them to do it for the right reasons and from the right heart.

And he doesn’t want them to think he’s just angling for another gift for him personally.

And I think that, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul handles it all deftly, incredibly well.

So that when you’ve read verses 14 through 20, you both feel like giving more to the work of the gospel [and for all of the right reasons!] and you feel confident that the Lord will take good care of you as you give.

It’s a beautiful, sublime piece of writing.

I took the title of this message from verse 15 where Paul references the matter of “giving and receiving” by which he’s talking about a financial relationship between to two parties.

A system of debits and credits. Philippians is full of that kind of economic, accounting language, debits and credits. Remember that from chapter 3?

Paul and the Philippians had a kind of financial relationship where they were doing the giving and he was doing the receiving because they were supporting him in his gospel work.

But Paul is quick to point out in this passage that he was not only one who should expect to receive something. The Philippians, even as they were giving, would also be receiving. “Giving and Receiving.”

Last time, we studied verses 10 through 13 where Paul rejoiced that the Philippians’ gift of support had reached him through the life-risking ministry of Epaphroditus.

And Paul was quick to make it clear that he wasn’t angling for another gift. He was “good” whether he got their gift or not. He knows the secret of contentment.

Remember what the secret was?

It’s Jesus.
If you have Jesus, you have everything even if you have nothing else.
If you have Jesus, you can do anything including lose everything.

Because Jesus Himself enough. That’s the secret.

But that doesn’t mean Paul isn’t thankful that their gift has gotten to him. He is! Look at verse 14.

“Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles.”

Giving is good! Remember, Paul is in prison for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And their gift will help meet his needs while he’s stuck there.

“Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles.”

In fact, Paul says, we’ve had a long history of this kind of thing, haven’t we? Verse 15.

“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.”

They have been at this together for a long time.

Just like you guys have been supporting me now for twenty two and a half years. We have a long history of giving and receiving.

Paul is talking about his second missionary journey. You can read about it the book of Acts, especially chapters 16 and 17.

Paul says that back then the Philippian Church was the only one that supported him. Even soon after he left them and went to Thessalonica, that’s about 95 miles away, they sent him help (notice this!) “again and again when I was in need.”

Remember. There is no Western Union. There is no Paypal or Venmo. There are no blue USPS box on the corner to drop that support check into and expect it to arrive the next day 95 miles away. For the Philippians to have supported Paul again and again, they would have had to send one of them 95 miles each way again and again to help him with his needs.

There’s a word for that: Sacrifice.

There’s another word for that: Partnership.

Did you catch that Paul uses the word “share” in verse 14 and in verse 15? Both of those in the Greek are variations on the word “koinonia” or “fellowship” that we learned about back in chapter 1.

Do you remember that first sermon I did on video on the first Sunday that we didn’t meet in person back in March? I said that this word is hard to translate because to us “fellowship” means coffee and donuts and chit-chat.

And “partnership” is better, but it’s a colder word.

This word is about a deep connection between people as they share the most important things including the very mission of the gospel.

I suggested “in-it-togetherness.” Paul and the Philippians were in-it-together, and they had been for a long time. That kind of deep connection is a great reason to give to the work of the gospel.

When you give your time and talents and treasure to a missionary or to a pastor or to another gospel worker, you get connected to them on a deeper level. You become a blessing to them and you share in what they go through, including the hard things.

On top of our own giving to our local church, Heather and I have a number of missionaries that we support in our gospel giving. We love getting their prayer letters and hearing about their lives and ministries, both the joys and the sorrows, the triumphs and the trials.

That’s one of the great things that has happened this year with our Zoom meetings. They have brought us closer to all of our missionary partners, so we know what we are up to in-it-together.

You can tell just how thankful Paul is for the Philippians. He just loves them! And with good reason; they have faithfully loved him.

So Paul is worried that all of this talk about their giving will make them think that he’s angling for another gift.

He does want them to give more! But not for himself. He’s actually concerned for them.

Because when you give, you receive. Verse 17.

“Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account.”

Again, don’t get me wrong. I’m not looking out for me here. I’m looking out for you.

Because when you give to the Lord’s work, you receive from the Lord.

Remember chapter 2, “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

Well, you’ve been looking out for me. I’m looking out for you. I want you to give so that you will receive.

Now, this “what may be credited to your account” is also hard to translate. It’s literally, “the fruit that increases to your account.”

So that might be money in your bank account that the Lord drops in there when you give.

Some versions actually have the word “profit” in there or in the footnotes.

I think he’s probably talking about spiritual fruit. When you sacrifice, when you give out of a generous heart, you grow spiritually.

You receive grace and sanctification.
When you bless others, you are blessed yourself.
When you make an investment in the kingdom by faith, your faith grows!

My guess is that he’s talking about that kind of fruit.

Paul wants them to give more, so they grow more.

And I want that for you.

I know that’s worked for me. When Heather and I were first married, I wasn’t too excited about giving to the work of the gospel. I thought that when we had enough, then we could start giving. But when you are just starting out, you don’t have very much.

I mean I was a lowly youth pastor who was going to seminary.

But Heather insisted that we give off of the top of every paycheck no matter how small.

And, let me tell you, that was stretching of my faith. So that as we gave by faith, I grew in faith.

It was not just an investment in the kingdom, it was an investment that yielded spiritual dividends in my own heart.

Are you giving to the work of the gospel?
Are you giving enough to the work of the gospel?
Is, perhaps, the Lord calling you give more?

I’m not asking for myself. You have taken great care of me. I said that last week, and I say it again today. 

I’m not looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account.

King Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Where’s your heart?
Where’s your treasure?

Again, Paul says in verse 18 that he doesn’t personally need another gift. V.18

“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.”

He just took it up a notch, didn’t he?

Paul is saying that when we give, it’s not just fellowship, it’s worship.

It’s not just giving to the work of the gospel, it is giving our hearts to the Lord in worship.

Paul uses Old Testament sacrificial system language here. “Fragrant offering, acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.” Our gifts put a smile on God’s face (so to speak).

We don’t kill bulls and goats lambs and then burn them up on the altar any longer.

But we do sacrifice. We take out of our hard earned money, our limited funds, and we give to the work of the gospel.

And when we do, we are worshiping.

Whether we put it in an offering plate, or we use the bank’s P2P system, we are worshiping.

If we do it in faith, of course. This is only true for those who are in Christ and are giving out of their faith in Christ.

It’s not automatic. It’s not legalistic. It’s not mechanical.

Give your money and turn God’s frown upside down.

No. God accepts us in Christ and Christ alone.

In chapter 3, Paul said we don’t have a righteousness of our own “that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ–the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith” (v.9). And it’s out of that righteousness and out of that faith in Christ that we give, and when we do it. is. worship.

God-pleasing worship.

That’s a reason to give, isn’t it?

So let me ask again. 

Are you giving to the work of the gospel?
Are you giving enough to the work of the gospel?
Is, perhaps, the Lord calling you give more?

Out of heart of worship.

You might be worried that if you give, you will run out.

I know I was back when we were first married.

The math didn’t seem to work for me.

And the Philippians might have been worried, too, about the exact same thing.

So Paul drops on them verse 19, and it’s a glorious promise. V.19

“And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”

Notice that that promise is for givers.

Those who give to the needs of gospel workers can expect that their own needs will also be met.

Those who give will receive.

And you can’t out-give God!

“And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”

Paul’s own God.

I love that. “My God.” The one Paul keeps talking about. 

He will personally see to it that all of the Philippians needs are cared for.

Not all of their wants, of course.
And not all of the things they think they need.

But every single genuine need, God will meet.

And He won’t do it (notice this) FROM His glorious riches, but ACCORDING TO.

Not just a little bit that he can spare but in accordance with, in correspondence with, in proportion to his glorious riches.

In other words, God can afford to take care of you. And to take care of you in His style. In a fashion that befits Him.

Both now and ESPECIALLY forever.

You can’t out-give God.

God will not be in your debt.

He gave it to you in the first place, and He will repay it all with compounding interest forever.

He is debtor to none.

He is actually never receiving. He is always giving. Even when He’s giving through you to others or back to you. God is never in debt.

So that He can be, not only the God of peace like we saw back in July, but the God of provision like we saw last week and today.

“And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”

So don’t be afraid to give.

And to give some more.

A few of you may need to be encouraged to give less. To save more. To be prudent with your funds. That’s between you and the Lord.

But my guess is that the vast majority of us need the other challenge. We need to be challenged to sacrificially give more to the work of the gospel so that we grow and that we worship and the kingdom grows and the Lord is pleased.

And so that we receive. So that we don’t have to worry.

That’s what I found out back when were first married. The Lord kept providing and providing and providing. Even if my math didn’t work, the Lord’s math did. And it still does!

I know that God used the gifts of others for that to happen. But I also know that God was ultimately behind it all providing and providing and providing for all of my needs according to His glorious[!] riches in Christ Jesus.

And I know who should get the ultimate glory. Verse 20.

“To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

No awkwardness there!

May we be increasingly giving to the work of the gospel, and expectantly receiving God’s provision, and may God get the glory for ever and ever. Amen.


Previous Messages in This Series:

01. "I Always Pray with Joy"
02. "Because Of This I Will Rejoice"
03. "I Will Continue To Rejoice"
04. "Whatever Happens"
05. "Make My Joy Complete"
06. "Your Attitude"
07. "I Am Glad and Rejoice With All Of You"
08. "With Great Joy"
09. "Rejoice in the Lord!"
10. "I Want To Know Christ"
11. "I Press On"
12. "My Joy and Crown"
13. "I Will Say It Again: Rejoice!"
14. "The Peace of God"
15. "The God of Peace"