This month, we are honored to have a guest blog from our dear friend, Len Crowley. We hope you enjoy his encouraging words as much as we have.
In the final chapter of one of his letters from prison (Philippians 4:10-20), Paul mentions “the matter of giving and receiving.” In so doing he introduces a mutual relationship between the two. The giving/receiving transaction has two sides; and both sides benefit greatly.
While in a Roman jail the Apostle Paul celebrates his companionship and the partnership he has with the church in that far off Greek city. They have been the few generous ones who helped Paul and sustained him during his dire circumstances. He is extremely grateful. In fact, the entire book of Philippians can rightly be seen as a “thank you letter” to those faithful believers.
The phrase Paul employs in verse 15 – the matter of giving and receiving – implies reciprocity. Though not well understood or appreciated, reciprocity is almost a rhythmic dance between the giver and the receiver in any situation. In the surrounding passage there are at least 10 benefits of the “matter.” The matter, in this case, being reciprocity. Fascinatingly, there are more than twice as many benefits for the giver as the receiver. We know that Jesus said about “more blessed to give” in Acts 20:35. This is what Paul is talking about.
In the giving/receiving equation we most often focus on the needs and thankfulness of the receiver. Most of the communication seems to originate with them. Their story and impact dominate the conversation. But take a look at Philippians 4:10-20.
For the receiver (Paul in this case) there are three obvious benefits:
· Joy – (v 10). He is remembered, shown concern, and cared for. How delightful when laboring in a hard or far away place to have those at home “see” you in your circumstances.
· Contentment – (v 11). Paul calls this a “secret.” It is a wonder, seeing all supply as from God through the hands of faithful friends. If God Himself is the provider, it is both according to His riches – infinite and abundant (v. 19) and it will be enough – sufficient to the need.
· Strengthening – (v 13). Endurance is hard work. The encouragement of my companions in the Gospel renews me daily.
All good things. It is truly a blessing to receive as well.
Now, look at the benefits that accrue to the givers.
· It is a “good work” – (v. 14). Sharing our resources with others is a visible demonstration of the goodness and grace of God. Giving lights the world and honors God (Matthew 5: 14-16).
· It “profits” the giver – (v 17). Giving increases our “account” in heaven. Jesus encourages such long-term investment (Matthew 6:19-20).
· It expands our heart and love. Where our money goes, our hearts naturally follow – not the other way around (Matthew 6:21).
· It pleases God – (v 18). As the “fragrant aroma” of summer BBQ or fresh baked bread does to our sense of smell, giving is such a delight and brings a smile to the face of God.
· It is a sacrifice to God – (v 18). True sacrifice focuses attention on Who I am worshipping, not on what I gave up. So it was with Christ’s sacrifice of Himself on the cross (Not my will… Matthew 26:39).
· It fulfills stewardship – In my responsibility as one with God’s resources I am required to be diligent in my giving (1 Corinthians 4:2).
· It reflects dependence on God – (v 19). Giving initiates with God; givers are His conduits, and themselves recipients.
· It brings glory to God – (v 20). As Church Creeds have long suggested, our chief end as His children – and our great joy – is to bring honor, praise, and glory to our Father who is in heaven.
For the actual recipients of this letter, the Philippians themselves, there is another, lasting benefit. They received the privilege and honor of having the Word of God written to them, about them, and by their example influenced generations to come in the matter of giving and receiving. What an impact their giving had on them and on us still today.
Remember Paul’s message as you give – you are blessed by it in so many ways. For recipients, you too are blessed as partners in the great dance celebrating God’s goodness.
Former Managing Director
COUNSEL & CAPITAL