If my sustenance and well being was dependent upon how much I give to help others, how
would I fare? When it comes to God’s provision, we need to be pipes not buckets. Another way to look at it is that we need to be like the Sea of Galilee, which receives but then also gives forth life; not the Dead Sea which only receives and supports no life.
Thanks for Their Gifts
10 I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength. 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 again and again when I was in need. 17 Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account. 18 I have received full payment and even more; 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 his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. 20 To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.
Who are you Lord?
I AM the God who orchestrates your physical needs, but also satisfies them so that you will see that I am worthy of your love and trust. I have designed you, both body and soul, to be dependent upon my grace for your daily sustenance. And I desire that you share it with each other.
I have created the church so that together with each other, you can reciprocate in the meeting of each other’s needs, showing that your hearts reflect my love. You are not just to look out for your own physical well being (“the pagan run after these things, and I know that you need them”) but the needs of others above your own. I desire that the abundance of one person will help alleviate the lacking of another, and when they are able, they can reciprocate. When I first started my church, this was how my children lived and I was honored throughout the community because of them.
In my wisdom, and for my own reasons, I determine when you should experience need in your life, but know that I am with you in them. I also know when you have plenty and your neighbors have need. In this life, I have given you wisdom to live within your means, and I give you my strength to live content in whatever situation you find yourself in. Remember, “It is those who want riches that pierce themselves with many hardships.” Rather, store up for yourselves riches in heaven by helping to alleviate the needs of those around you and trust me to send someone to help you meet your needs.
When we have a bucket mentality and do not allow the funds which we receive from the Lord to accomplish the task for which they were given, God often shuts off the tap, and will someday in the future, hold us accountable for them. They were meant to be a blessing through you to others. You are just a steward of funds for God’s purposes. Since when do we as Christians get to have a right to horde and amass wealth for our own pleasure when others are starving, or worse, lost without God’s Word and Salvation?
This passage showed me multiple facets of God’s purpose in allowing the needs that we face in this life.
Firstly, God allows needs in our lives so that we can remember that only in God, can all our real needs be met, and so knowing that our God is sovereign in all our affairs, we can be content in the situation that He has for us at this time.
Secondly, God has designed those same needs so that his Body, the Church, should reach out to meet those needs in order to show his love and reveal his glory to everyone involved. In Prov 19:17 God says that “he who is gracious to (or gives, or is kind) to the poor, lends to God.”
Thirdly in verse 10 “Renewed concern” we see the attitude that we should have in our daily lives. The Philippians created the opportunity to show their concern for Paul by sending Epaphroditis to help him. Only when we are concerned for others can we look out for, or become aware of, the needs in others lives and then prepare ourselves to do something about them. Very seldom will you give, when you are not planning to do so. We need the mentality which says; “I want to be ready to help when the time comes”.
Fourthly, contentment in our own lives is the key. We cannot always control our circumstances, but we can control what we make of them. And even if we cannot control what we make of them, we can control how we respond to them. The secret to contentment is to give thanks, pray and live by God’s power which is in us. Realize that we truly deserve nothing, and count each blessing of his mercy to us. When we realize that the only thing that we deserve is – punishment as sinners, then God’s mercy, grace and provision becomes more and more clear and abundant to us so that it won’t matter as much what our physical circumstances are, we can be thankful and not complain.
What would the church look like if we as God’s children lived by the question that “if my sustenance and well being was dependent upon my helping others, would I starve?”
Fifthly, God shows that he cares for you through the gifts from his children when you are in need. So what better way to show where your heart is…? God sees the sacrificial nature of the gifts we give (putting others interests before your own) and is pleased and calls your gift a fragrant offering.
Sixthly, on the flip side of giving; like what Paul says in verse 17, “not that I am looking for the gift, but for God to credit your account”. Am I willing to let others deny themselves, take food from their table so to speak, in order to meet my needs, so that they can be blessed by God? In my experience as a missionary, this is the most humbling position to live in. Yet I know that God is directing them to help me do His work for his kingdom, and they will share with me in the reward someday.
As we focus on others needs, God focuses on our needs and the cycle starts all over again, a cycle of need- help- praise- reward to the glory of God. Thus we are pipes channeling God’s abundance and not buckets hording the resources.
More to come,