The Grace of Giving

SCRIPTURE: Philippians 4:18-23

18At the moment I have all I need—and more! I am generously supplied with the gifts you sent me with Epaphroditus. They are a sweet-smelling sacrifice that is acceptable and pleasing to God. 19 And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.

20 Now all glory to God our Father forever and ever! Amen. 21 Give my greetings to each of God’s holy people—all who belong to Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me send you their greetings. 22 And all the rest of God’s people send you greetings, too, especially those in Caesar’s household. 23 May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

Introduction

This is are 28th and final message from Philippians. I love the book of Philippians. When I get a new bible, Philippians is invariably the first book I finish and I love the way Philippians ends: Tonight, we are going to talk about one of my favorite subjects, giving. There are two kinds of preachers who dwell on the subject of stewardship: [1] Those who believe what God’s word teaches and are convinced that God will bless those who practice faithful stewardship and [2] Those who are fund raisers. Unfortunately, the fund raisers are more gifted than those of us who preach it for the benefit of the listener. Paul was not a fund raiser.

There are five things I want to say about giving tonight and I do want to give credit to Ralph Martin and Tyndale Commentary.

[1] GIVING IS A WAY TO SUPPORT GOD’S WORK

Paul said…At the moment I have all I need—and more! I am generously supplied with the gifts you sent me with Epaphroditus. As we have mentioned often, Philippi was the only church who helped Paul financially and wow, what a reward these folks are going to receive. Do you think that I would not jump at the opportunity to invest in Paul’s ministry. Any believer would be a fool to not invest in what Paul was doing.

You have no doubt heard me tell the story of James Franklin Jarman better known as Maxey. I guess it earned the nick name from maximizing every opportunity.  He started as a shoe salesmen in Nashville, Tennessee and from there build one of the largest businesses in America. In the 70’s his company experienced a down turn and Maxey fortune evaporated. Rich or poor, Maxey was the same. He never got high in the good days and he did not despair in the bad ones.

He went to church twice on Sundays and to Wednesday night prayer meetings. He read four chapters every day and five on Sunday to get him through the Bible once a year (over sixty times). He more than tithed, and he prayed daily. He taught two Bible classes, held most of the lay positions in his church, and served many other Christian organizations including Christianity Today. As part of his discipline, he slept five and half hours a night.

After the down turn when Maxey was struggling to keep the business going; his best friend ask him if he ever thought about the millions he had given away, Maxey said, “Of course I have, but remember, I didn’t lose a penny I gave away. I only lost what I kept.”

One of the last things Maxey said on this earth was…”The ultimate, and I guess very few, if any, ever get to the full level of this position, is to know God-not necessarily to do something for God, but to know God.”

I have one thought to challenge you with: Maxey lost his earthy fortune but what kind of heavenly treasure will he have?

[2] GIVING IS A WAY FOR BELIEVERS TO PRARTICIPATE IN WORSHIP

In Exodus 23:15 and 34:20 the bible says…“No one may appear before me without an offering.” Years ago, more than 24, I was preaching through the bible and I came across these verses. I simply stated that it was impossible for the Israelites to worship without and offering. Understand that most of their offerings were not money and they had offerings that the poor could bring [might take some work and effort]. O.T. worship was based on the sacrificial system, thus you had to bring an offering to take part in the worship.

I was so moved by this fact that we changed how we do our offerings: at one time, most of the offering came through SS but now 100% comes through worship.  I am afraid that our thinking has not changed but giving is a huge part of worship. You cannot worship without giving. It is impossible for a totally selfish person to worship. They may worship but it will be narcissistic. I don’t know how many times I have stated this truth in worship but it does not sink in. Why? I don’t understand why people do not see the connection.

[3] GIVING PROMOTES THE CAUSE OF CHRIST.

What if the Philippians had not supported Paul? Did their support enhance the kingdom work and the missionary effort? The Benedictine Monks take a vow of poverty. Back in the 80, I had one call and ask for a ride to Washington. He meet me at a gas station by the interstate. We were gone for three days and he never spent a dime. I don’t think he had a dime. He never missed a meal and he slept in my motel bed while I slept on the floor. How did he do it? Either I or someone in the group paid for everything: gas, motel, food, etc. He was very humble and never ask for anything but we were not going to allow him to go without.

Where ever their is ministry and missions, there is a life-line to some support group. Someone somewhere is giving their money. Ministry and missions is expensive. I want you to notice a passage of scripture in Luke 8….

Soon afterward Jesus began a tour of the nearby towns and villages, preaching and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom of God. He took his twelve disciples with him, along with some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases. Among them were Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons; 3 Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s business manager; Susanna; and many others who were contributing from their own resources to support Jesus and his disciples.

An army always has a supply line: if you cut that line, you will defeat the army.

[4] GIVING PLEASES GOD

Again: note verse 18…I am generously supplied with the gifts you sent me with Epaphroditus. They are a sweet-smelling sacrifice that is acceptable and pleasing to God.

God is never more pleased than when we are giving because this makes us reflect His image. Really, the bottom line on giving should be to please God. This should be our motive. Jesus greatest passion was to please the Father.

[5] GIVING PRODUCES A HEAVENLY TREASURE

Paul said, And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.

No doubt, Paul was speaking of the present but there is great reward in giving and GOD takes care of givers. He provides seed to the sower. Hudson Taylor went to China with nothing: he literally went on faith. He believed….

  1. Where God guides, He provides.
  2. He believed Philippians 4:6…That we are to worry about nothing and pray about everything.
  3. He also claimed Philippians 4:19…My God will supply all your needs.

CONCLUSION

Paul, Hudson Taylor or myself, did not, do not have the means to reward the supporters of our ministry. Paul could not pay Philippi back and he knew it but he believed that God would reward them for their generosity. Some churches may provide adequately for their employees but I have never had the luxury of serving one and I have no regrets. My experience has been humbling to say the least but I have learned that God will supply my needs. He uses the church and when I need extra, He uses others. I have a friend who had been supporting us financially for 40 years. I will not say that we have not been in some tight places and I do admit that my wife working as a nurse helped us immensely. Our salary has always been our base of support but our needs have at times exceeded our salary. Like Paul, I choose not to ask for help unless it is absolutely necessary. I have learned to pray and trust and it there is a need, God will supply the need. I have hundred’s of stories to back up my testimony but I know you don’t want to hear them. Trust me, “My God will supply all your needs” and when He does, you be sure to give Him all the glory.

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