Sacrificial Giving – Needs or Greeds?
“14 Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. 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; 16 for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid more than once when I was in need. 17 Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account. 18 I have received full payment and have more than enough. 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. 19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
20 To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” Philippians 4:14-20 NIV
In Philippians 4:14-20, Paul thanks the church at Philippi for their generous giving to support him and his ministry. Paul refers to a specific time when the Church at Philippi was the only ones providing him financial support on his missionary journeys.
God is not obligated to provide for our ever “greed,” but He does supply all of our “needs.” The great missionary Hudson Taylor often said, “When God’s work is done in God’s way for God’s glory, it will not lack for God’s supply.” I think Paul would agree with that statement. Paul knew that the believers in Philippi didn’t give simply because they were living in abundance. That simply wasn’t the case. The church in Philippi was not a group of wealthy folks who gave to Paul from their abundance. They believed in the cause of the Gospel and gave sacrificially; out of their own poverty.
When Paul seen the gifts they provided for him, he drew a word picture to give a promise from the Lord. Paul compared the believers in Philippi to the priesthood in Israel and the gifts they provided to him, as spiritual sacrifices being offered to God. In light of Malachi 1:6-14, the Jewish people knew that when they gave sacrifices to God, it meant giving their very best.
Sacrificial giving in the Bible times was very different from our giving to Goodwill or the Salvation Army. We clean our houses and look for what it is we can get rid of. If the Salvation Army or Goodwill denied our gifts, we throw it away like trash. We give from our abundance. The New Testament Jewish people gave bulls and rams as sacrifices to God and as one might imagine, bulls and rams were not cheap items in that day. When they gave, it was sacrificial. Their giving hurt them, but reminded them where their priorities were.
When we give faithfully to the Lord and we give sacrificially for Him, Paul assures that we can trust our provision from God, by the power of God, because that is the promise of God. When we give sacrificially, it is true that God will never be our debtor. He will not and cannot be out-given.
This is a hard devotion for me to write since I am typically one to give from my abundance. Most times when I give, I first count the cost that it will bear to myself or my family. Paul teaches me that sacrificial giving to God is an “acceptable, pleasing sacrifice to God.”
By the way, this morning, my 10 year old son took all of his birthday money to church and heard a voice say to “give it all… I will take care of you.” He obeyed, but was worried I would punish him for giving to God. I struggle with giving when I think of my bills, debts, and payments that need to be met. My son trusts that his Father will take care of him. I’d be wise to learn the same lesson.
Holy Spirit teach me to steward better what You give, so that I can be more extravagant and generous in giving sacrifices to You. In the strong name of Jesus Christ I pray, amen.