Giving and Receiving
Giving and Receiving, 10.18.20
Before we begin this morning, I’d like for you to look in your church bulletin this morning and read the “From Pulpit and Paper” handout. Last week, during first service, I misspoke during my sermon, and in that handout, I address that error I made during first service last week. I apologize for that error. More details about the specifics can be found on the handout.
Let’s go ahead and open up together in our Bibles to Phil 4:15.
Many churches overemphasize the topic of money. Some churches can’t seem to go a week without talking about the tithe. I was raised in a church like this. During every sermon you would hear the gospel present, an altar call given for a response, and some mention of the importance of giving to the local church. Now that might be an exaggeration but that’s what I remember. That’s a turn off. It’s a turn off because there’s a conflict of interest. The church and the preacher is the main benefactor for that message on giving, rather than other people. It leads to the impression of bad motives.
And it’s even worse when you throw in these prosperity-gospel preachers who distort the principle of reaping and sowing. They might saw, “In order to reap financial blessings, you must sow financial gifts.” Basically they teach that in order to get rich you have to give to their ministries. That’s false teaching, dear friends. Never, ever, ever listen to a preacher who says to you that God wants to give to their ministries and if you do God will make you financially wealthy. Don’t fall for that. That is bad teaching.
Now, with all that said, there is another error on teaching about money that we must avoid. That other error is to underemphasize the topic of money; that is, to never talk about it. Preachers who underemphasize the topic of money might desire to avoid looking like these prosperity preachers. That’s wise. However, the Bible does talk about money. The Bible talks about other topics, too, but it does talk about money. And because the Bible talks about money, pastors should preach and teach on money, when it is appropriate.
And this is one of the beauties of expository preaching. In expository preaching, the preacher preaches what it is that God has said, not what it is that the preacher wants to talk about. It is the text that drives the preaching, rather than the preacher during the preaching.
And as providence would have it, we land this morning on a passage of Scripture that discussion money; specifically, the giving and receiving of money based on the relationship between the apostle Paul and the Philippian church.
Join with me in reading Phil 4:15–20.
And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.
The way I am going to handle this passage this morning is going to be like this. We are going to go verse by verse, highlighting one point of application per verse. For my faithful three-point sermon people out there, I do apologize. This morning we will have five points. Five verses. One point per verse. Five points. So this means we will be going for about an hour and a half this morning in this sermon.
Give to the Ministry
Our first point comes from our first verse this morning. Verse 15. Let’s read it again together. Paul writes,
And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only.
What Paul is doing here is that he is retelling the common history that he has had with the Philippians. He is reflecting on the history of his relationship with the Philippians. He is saying to the Philippians, “Y’all remember when I had no one partnering with me except for you. You remember that?” That’s a paraphrase of v. 15. He does the same thing in v. 16, too.
Paul is doing here what we often do with people with whom we have had long-term relationships with. Often when me and my family our sitting at our dinner table, I’ll ask something like, “Do you guys remember when we drove all the way from Dallas to Pierre? Remember that? That was a hard trip but we made it.” We do that all the time. We reminiscence. Paul does the same thing in vv. 15 and 16. He is reminiscing with the Philippians regarding their shared history together.
The way I want to apply this passage is by means of using the Philippian church as an example of how we should be both as a church and as individual Christians. As Paul reminisces, he is reflecting on the goodness that the Philippian church has shown he. He is speaking of good things that the Philippian church has done for him in this section, not the bad things. The Philippian church in this passage serves as an example for us to follow and model ourselves. As I said, both as a church and as individuals.
Just as the Philippian church gave money to Paul, so also we as a church and as individuals must financially support the work of the gospel. This is the most basic and fundamental point of the sermon. Not using our money to support the work of the ministry is not an option for Christians. Our commitment to the word of the ministry must go beyond a commitment to pray. Prayer is key, of course, but so is giving of our financial resources. This both goes to the local church, to ministries in our area, and to the work of global missions. We MUST give our financial resources to support the work of the ministry.
The second point is this: give faithfully. Give faithfully. Looking at v. 16. Paul says,
Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again.
This partnership that the Philippians had with Paul was not a hit and run relationship. It wasn’t just a one-time gift that the Philippians gave at the end of the year and that’s it. No. The Philippians were faithful to Paul. They recognized that Paul was gospel laborer and they stuck with him during his difficulty. The Philippians demonstrated faithfulness in their giving.
Once again, using the Philippian church as an example, in our financial support of the work of the ministry, there needs to be patterns of faithfulness in our lives. In our giving, we must give faithfully. Finances are one of the realms of our lives in which God wants us to be faithful. In all of life, we are supposed to be faithful in all different areas of our life—in our home, in our job, in our church, in our relationships, in our recreation. God requires faithfulness from us in all areas of our life, our finances included.
Give faithfully. Support the work of the ministry faithfully. Don’t just give here or there, when you feel like it. Make it a discipline of your life to regularly and routinely give. Identify those ministries that are faithful and faithfully give to those ministries, through the good times and the bad times. They need it, and God wants that from you.
Receive for the Good of Others
Point number three: receive for the good of others. Receive for the good of others. Verse 17, Paul says,
Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit.
In this verse, Paul transitions the conversation away from talking about the Philippians and their giving and instead talks about himself and receiving. The Philippians gave this financial gift to Paul, and Paul lets the Philippians know that, more than wanting the financial gift that they sent him, he wants them built up in Christ. More than the gift, Paul wants the Philippians to be blessed by God. Paul’s main pursuit is not the gift but the benefit that the Philippians receive by Paul receiving the gift. Paul does need this gift but more he wants the Philippians to be blessed.
When we receive gifts from others—whatever these gifts might be—we bless other people. To receive a gift, with thanks, appreciation, and warmth, is a blessing to the person who gives it. For some people, the most hurt they have ever been in life was when they gave a very meaningful and important gift, and that gift was rejected. That is very hurtful. Sometimes the most unloving thing you can do for people is to reject the gifts that they give you. Now, if we were to state this a bit differently, sometimes the most loving thing you can do for other people is to accept the gifts that they give you. There is tremendous satisfaction that we receive when others accept from us gifts that we have sacrificed to get, and there is tremendous hurt when our gifts of love are rejected by others.
Let me share a story with you that illustrates this. This is a true story. I have a friend who had a pastor who had just been diagnosed with cancer. This pastor had played an influential role in my friend’s life, and when my friend had heard about his cancer, he bought him a gift card to a restaurant and placed the gift card in a card, with a note about how important the pastor had been to him and a type of note pertaining to get well. So, my friend gave this pastor this card and the pastor said this that he couldn’t accept the gift. Confused my friend asked the pastor why not. The pastor responded that as a matter of integrity he didn’t want to give the impression of favoritism through the giving or receiving of gifts. I guess this means that the pastor wouldn’t give or receive any gifts from his congregants. The pastor returned the card to my friend. My friend felt embarrassed and offended.
If someone gives you a gift, take it. Take it. Allow yourself to be served. More than gifts, dear friends, seek the wellbeing of others. And have the wisdom to see that by rejecting gifts from other people, those people will perceive you as rejecting them. Don’t be so prideful to think that other people can’t help you. Accept their help and appreciate their gifts. Follow Paul’s example, don’t seek the gift, but seek the benefit that others will receive from you receiving their gift.
Moving along, point number four is this: give generously. Give generously. Looking with me at v. 18. Paul writes,
I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.
Paul speaks of the Philippians gift as a generous one. This financial gift didn’t just meet Paul’s needs, but it went above and beyond. The Philippians sent to Paul a generous financial gift, one that met his needs and more.
Let me speak for a minute to my fellow penny pinchers out there. You, dear brothers and sisters, I really respect. I am one of you. I greatly respect your ability to save, to get out of debt, to attain and maintain financial freedom, to save for the future, to pass on money to your children, and to your children’s children. I appreciate your passion for Dave Ramsey. I really do. I myself have benefitted from Dave Ramsey. We need more financial responsibility in this world, especially among Millennials, the age group I’m a part of. I’m thankful for you.
However, there should be limits to our penny pinching. Specifically, our penny pinching should not be expressed towards other people. The Bible calls us to generosity towards others. As Christians, the Bible calls us to pinch our own pennies but to express generosity towards others. Sometimes our “penny pinching” attitudes are masqueraded as wisdom when in actually these attitudes are a lack of generosity. Let me give you an example.
Let me give you an illustration of penny pinching done in the name of Christianity gone bad. So I used to work as a waiter at a restaurant when I was in college. I worked during the summers. It was a great gig. When you start as a waiter or waitress, there’s a big learning curve, but over time you get the hang of it and make pretty good money. There was one occasion when I was waiting on a table of four elderly women. Very kind women. From what I can remember, I did a good job of serving them. Got them their food, filled up their drinks, gave them their check, and they left. First thing I would always do when I got back to the table after they left, you look to see how much tip the left you. So this was a table of four, the check was probably around $50, so I was expecting something like a $7 tip. As it turns out, they didn’t leave me a financial tip. Instead, the “tip” they left was a tract. And I remember they left a little note, too. I guess their thinking was eternal life is way better than any amount of money. What I needed most was spiritual blessing, not financial blessing.
The Lord bless these women, but that’s penny pinching gone bad, dear brothers and sisters. That’s not generosity. That’s being a cheapskate masked in Christian clothing. That’s being a miser—someone who cuts costs no matter the cost. That’s not Christian. Dear friends, brothers and sisters, give generously. Give an over and abundance. Yes, you should save. Yes, you should be wise about how much money you give and who you give money to. Yes too all this. But also yes to generosity. Yes to lavishing on others financial blessings, just as our God has lavished the riches of his kindness on us. Dear Christian, be generous. Give generously.
You Can’t Outgive God
We’re moving along here well, aren’t we? Point five. I never though I would ever say that. Point five. Here it is: You can’t outgive God. Looking at the text. Verse 19.
And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
Here we have a tremendous promise from our God. Like the previous passages in which we have explored promises from God, there’s no might or may occurring in this verse. The passage doesn’t read, “And my God might supply every need of yours.” Or, “And my God may supply every need of yours.” No. It doesn’t say that. Mights and mays are very flimsy. You can’t build your life on a might or may.
What we have here is a will. “And my God will supply every need of yours.” Paul here is talking to the Philippians. In v. 18, the previous verse, Paul discussed the generous gift that the Philippians gave him. Paul knows that money doesn’t grow on trees. He knows that. He knows that the Philippians do not have an infinite supply of money. That’s why he assures the Philippians that God will provide for them. Even though the Philippians may have had to make some financial sacrifices to help Paul, Paul assures them that God will watch over you. God will provide for them.
God will provide for the Philippians “according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” What’s that mean? The statement “according to” specifies that God will supply what the Philippians need in proportion to his own wealth. God’s supply is in accord with his own riches.
God has tremendous wealth. This passage states that. See the word “riches?” The currency of his wealth is “in glory.” Glory is his form of currency. Think of glory as inapproachable light. God is this being who is infinitely wealthy in glory. Or, we might understand this to be saying that God is gloriously, magnificently wealthy.
This wealth is related to God’s Son, Jesus Christ. Notice the last prepositional phrase. “In Christ Jesus.” God is infinitely wealthy. And this wealth is made known in and through his Son.
Dear friends, you can’t outgive God. You can’t outgive him. Think of the best gift a person can give. The best gift that I’ve ever given was to my wife. It was her engagement ring. That was a great gift, right, Kathryn? You better say yes. Dear friends, that’s peanuts to God. Look at how this passage describes God’s riches.
This is the God that can and will meet your every need. You can’t outgive God. His purse is bigger than yours. His currency is better than yours. He’s nicer than you. He’s more loving. He kinder. He’s more generous. You just can’t outgive him.
And this is a tremendous blessing to know this. As we spend ourselves for Christ, God will not let us fall between the cracks. He won’t allow us to go without a safety net. He himself assures it. He gives us his word. This needs to be a motive in your giving. As you give, God will give to you.
And we can and should affirm this in a non-prosperity gospel way. The prosperity gospel takes these promises and distorts them. The problem with the prosperity gospel is not promises like these, but how they distort them. We must hang onto the promises but reject their distortion. And the way we do that is giving in light of this belief that God will care for those who sacrifice themselves for him. He is faithful. He is the most generous God. Give in light of that truth.
Give God Glory
Now for our last point this morning, dear church family. We end our sermon with how Paul ends this section in Phil 4. Paul says this in v. 20,
To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.
The way I want to interpret this point is by means of giving and receiving. What Paul is calling the Philippian church to do in this verse is to give God glory. God does not want your money. God doesn’t want your money because God doesn’t need your money. God has no need. He’s not broke, he’s not hungry, he doesn’t need a place to stay, he doesn’t need a pay. He needs none of that. God needs nothing. And God doesn’t want your money.
Do you realize that you actually can’t give money to God. We give money to God’s cause here in the earth, but we never give money to God. That’s impossible. If you go outside and set up an offering plate for God and put some money in it, God will never come down and grab it. Given how much wind we have here in Pierre, the wind will just drive it away. You can’t give money to God. He’ll never take it because he doesn’t need it.
You can, though, give God glory. That’s what you can give him. That’s possible. Unlike money, you can give God glory. And God accepts our praise. He does. He doesn’t accept our money, but he will accept our praise. Now God doesn’t need our praise. God is God even if we do not acknowledge him. But he accepts our praise. He accepts our praise because of Jesus Christ. Because of what his Son did for us. He Son has redeemed us. And his Father will always accept the Son.
Tying this to money. You can’t give God money but you can give him glory. They way you give God glory is by giving money to his purposes in the world. By giving money to God’s cause, we bring him honor, praise, and glory. God doesn’t need your money but he wants your praise. Give money to God’s purpose so that you might give God what it is his wants from you: praise, honor, and glory. Honor God by giving money to his cause in the world.
And we close this morning with the very last word Paul places at the end of verse 20. It’s “Amen.” Amen is a powerful word. It’s not just a filler word. It’s the word that we say to affirm what it is that God has done. It’s the exclamation point that the church places on the God’s work in the world. To say amen is to strongly affirm what it is that God has said. God is good, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, is his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth. He has given us His Son by the power of the Holy Spirit. God’s Spirit has changed us and leads us to give our money—faithfully and generously—to God’s purposes in the world. When we receiving gifts, we are to do so with the good of others in mind. God cannot be outgiven. He gives and gives and gives. And he will be faithful to us always. We give knowing that he will be faithful. And as we give our money to his purposes in this world, we give God glory, the one thing that he wants from us. And all of God’s people say, Amen! Amen. This is true.