Friday, August 13, 2021

2021.08.13 Hopewell @Home ▫ Philippians 4:14–17

Read Philippians 4:14–17

Questions from the Scripture text: How have the Philippians done (Philippians 4:14)? By doing what? To what time does the apostle refer in Philippians 4:15? What had he done then? What were the Philippians the only ones to do at that time? To where else had they done this (Philippians 4:16)? How often? What doesn’t the apostle seek (Philippians 4:17)? What does the apostle seek?

When Christ means more and more to us, and material things mean less and less to us, we might unintentionally communicate that we are not so grateful for those material things that we do receive from others. The apostle seems aware of this, when he begins Philippians 4:14, “Nevertheless.” 

But if material things are less valuable, then Christian generosity is not less but rather all the more valuable; for, Christian generosity is a spiritual thing! “You have done good,” the apostle tells the Philippians (verse 14a). “You had fellowship together” now with my distress (verse 14b) just as you had done in the giving and receiving in my evangelistic mission (Philippians 4:15). And in between that “beginning of the gospel” way back when, and the recent distress, have been other times when they seized the opportunity (Philippians 4:16, cf. Philippians 4:10) to give.

So, they have done well to have fellowship. The apostle doesn’t say anything about what the gift was, or how much, or what it was used for. He stresses their doing good. He stresses their fellowship with him. The importance of the material gift (Philippians 4:17a) pales in comparison to the importance of the spiritual fruit that comes from it, and with which they will be credited (verse 17b).

So the Philippians’ gifts were not made smaller to Paul by his contentment in Christ, but rather greater. Their gifts were gifts from the Christ with Whom he was content. They themselves were gifts from the Christ with Whom he was content. The generosity that they displayed was a work within them of the Christ with Whom he was content. And the measure of these things would increase, as that Christ did more work through them, as a result of the work that He has done in them.

So, let us never allow increasing contentment apart from material things to twist itself into ingratitude for the generosity either of our Lord or of other believers. For, the more that Christ means to us, the more that the generosity itself ought to impress us, regardless of its content or quantity. And that is cause for gratitude to Him, to them, and to Him in their behalf.

How have others been generous with you? How have you had opportunity to be generous to others? How can you foster appreciation for the spiritual nature of that generosity? How can you communicate that appreciation in a way that focuses upon its spiritual character?

Sample prayer:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, You are a God Who are sufficient and abundant in Yourself. You are the Giver of all good gifts, and Your creatures are all receivers. Forgive us for whenever we are discontented, or when we overlook the displays of Your goodness and grace in others or to ourselves. Thank You for what we have seen of others’ generosity, as You reproduce Your own likeness in them. Increase our own generosity, and our own gratitude, we ask through Him Who is Your greatest gift—Yourself in the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ. AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP32B “Instruction, I Will Give to You” or TPH173 “Almighty God, Your Word”


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