To be a Christian is to be a receiver and a giver.
Many of us have been educated on the importance of having a retirement account to which we make consistent contributions. Yet while it would be wrong for us to completely dismiss the matter of making sound financial decisions, as believers we must also consider our giving and investing in light of eternity.
In his letter to the church in Philippi, the apostle Paul commended his brothers and sisters in Christ for their willingness to “share [his] trouble”—a partnership that included the sharing and giving of material gifts. The Philippians’ generosity was outstanding in that it stood in direct contrast to the absence of such support for Paul from other churches. Although their church was a fledgling congregation, the Philippian believers had determined from the very outset that they would support the apostle in his gospel work.
Their support for Paul was not only outstanding but also longstanding. The Philippians’ giving wasn’t sporadic. Rather, it was marked by consistency and continuity as they sought to help him with his needs again and again. Although a decade had elapsed since Paul first preached the gospel to them, these men and women were still committed.
Their giving was not the result of a one-time emotional surge nor the product of external manipulation. No, this early church gave in the awareness that everything they possessed had been given freely to them. Indeed, in sending out the disciples, Jesus had reminded them that because they “received without paying,” they were to “give without pay” (Matthew 10:8). In other words, the foundation of sacrificial, generous, resourceful partnership is the grace of God. That foundation is established when we understand that all we are and all we have—all our resources, our gifts, and our talents—is from Him.
We do not all have the same gifts or capacity for giving—and monetary giving is certainly not the only avenue for benevolence! Yet since we are all recipients of what God has given to us, we will all be those who look to give to others. God has purposefully put His people together in such a way that we are each to give “according to the grace given to us” (Romans 12:6). We shouldn’t give simply because we’ve been manipulated or because we listened to a stirring song that brought us to the point of tears, nor should we give because we’ll get our name on a building or a bench. No, we should give for one reason and one reason only: because God has so freely and so generously given to us.
How is God calling me to think differently?
How is God reordering my heart’s affections — what I love?
What is God calling me to do as I go about my day today?
The Collection for Christians in Jerusalem
1Now it is superfluous for me to write to you about the ministry for the saints, 2for I know your readiness, of which I boast about you to the people of Macedonia, saying that Achaia has been ready since last year. And your zeal has stirred up most of them. 3But I am sending1 the brothers so that our boasting about you may not prove empty in this matter, so that you may be ready, as I said you would be. 4Otherwise, if some Macedonians come with me and find that you are not ready, we would be humiliated—to say nothing of you—for being so confident. 5So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to go on ahead to you and arrange in advance for the gift2 you have promised, so that it may be ready as a willing gift, not as an exaction.3
The Cheerful Giver
6The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully4 will also reap bountifully. 7Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency5 in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. 9As it is written,
“He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor;
his righteousness endures forever.”
10He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. 11You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. 12For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. 13By their approval of this service, they6 will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, 14while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. 15Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!
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