Paul’s version of “Thank you for your financial support” as he writes to the Philippian church is novel, to say the least: he says that their generosity made him glad not because of what their gifts meant to him but because of what their gifts would mean to them. He tells them that their giving will be of more benefit to them than to him, the recipient!
Paul’s excitement over their generosity flowed from the assurance that they would benefit from it for all of eternity. His confidence was grounded in Jesus’ teaching. In Luke’s Gospel, for example, Peter had said to Jesus, “See, we have left our homes and followed you” (Luke 18:28). We don’t exactly know what Peter’s motivation was for this remark, but we do have Jesus’ response: He said, “There is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life” (v 29-30). Jesus was saying that Peter and the other disciples had not given things up so much as invested in their future.
The Bible is absolutely clear concerning both the present day and the nearness of eternity. We find it easy to live in such a way that eternity has no bearing on how we give, think, and live now, but the fact is that eternity could be one breath away for every one of us and that it lasts far longer than this fleeting life. It is therefore fitting to give in anticipation of the rich dividends that will pay out in eternal life.
Our ability to give with open hands and in light of eternity is rooted in the generosity of God Himself, who is the great Giver. Perhaps the greatest way we can err in giving is by not giving at all. We might be tempted to think that we can’t afford to give—but the truth is, we can’t afford not to give! As Jesus so lovingly promises us, “Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you” (Luke 6:38).
So, consider your investments—not in retirement plans, or in the stock market, or in a college fund, but the kind of payment that “increases to your credit” in eternity. There is great gain in gospel giving. Let the life to come determine your spending in your life today, and you will find yourself giving both generously and cheerfully.
Encouragement to Give Generously
1We want you to know, brothers,1 about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, 2for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. 3For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, 4begging us earnestly for the favor2 of taking part in the relief of the saints— 5and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us. 6Accordingly, we urged Titus that as he had started, so he should complete among you this act of grace. 7But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you3—see that you excel in this act of grace also.
8I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine. 9For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. 10And in this matter I give my judgment: this benefits you, who a year ago started not only to do this work but also to desire to do it. 11So now finish doing it as well, so that your readiness in desiring it may be matched by your completing it out of what you have. 12For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have. 13For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness 14your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness. 15As it is written, “Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack.”
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