Read Philippians 4:10-14
I want you to notice again Paul’s use of the word “joy” and especially how it relates to financial stewardship.
They were very concerned for Paul’s welfare and voluntarily decided as a church to give money to support him through Epaphroditus. In reality, Paul didn’t really “need” the gift, but he accepted it with joy.
What made Paul so joyful even in prison?
In verse 11, he had learned to be content in any circumstance. Contentment is not something you can go buy at Wal-Mart off the shelf and put in your back pocket. True contentment is only learned through experience. Circumstances are ordained by God to truly develop us spiritually and teach us to be content.
One of the truths that we see in this passage, and which is so very hard to comprehend in our American consumeristic and materialistic society, is that “things” don’t really matter—relationships do!
Let me ask you a very simple question: Are you content? Content with where God has placed you? Content with your finances? Content with your job? Content with your relationships?
Does this come automatically? No, again, it comes through experience where we trust in the mercy of Christ to meet all of our needs.
In verse 13, we find probably the most famous passage of Scripture in the book of Philippians, but yet I want you to remember the context. What is Paul talking about here? Contentment –the secret of trusting Christ in all things and especially when it comes to finances.
Can we do ALL things through Christ who gives us strength? In a sense, we can because His divine power has given us all things for life and godliness, but in the context of this passage, the ability or the power comes in being content and in being mature in our financial giving.
When we think of our finances and in tithing and giving, many times we feel “weak” or overwhelmed or lacking. We have a hard time trusting in God’s provision. Yet, what does He promise us through Christ—strength to be content and to practice financial stewardship.
As we face this 3-year “Advancing the Gospel…Trusting His Provision” debt reduction campaign, there may be a strong level of fear, uncertainty, and doubt as to how you can make a commitment to the Lord. You may wonder how God could take care of your needs if you give sacrificially above and beyond your tithe.
Maybe you are not practicing tithing or proportional giving and this is the first time in your life where you have really sensed the Biblical challenge to be obedient to Jesus.
In order to be obedient, you and I need strength and that is exactly what God promises. God promises to give us the ability and power to remain faithful to Him through the grace of Christ.
Stepping up to the plate and practicing faithful Biblical stewardship requires brave faith. It requires keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus. And yet, if we ask Him, He will give us the power to obey!
In verse 14, Paul uses a rare Greek word to show how they “shared” in His troubles. This word means “a deep partnership of two going in the same direction”. They were going in the same direction with Paul. Even though he was in prison, the direction they were both going was in advancing the gospel.
And yet for Paul it was “tribulation”. His imprisonment was a very difficult ordeal for him to undergo, yet the Philippian church was a joint partner in this suffering through their partnership in the gospel and through their financial giving.
Giving is intrinsically tied to the gospel. In the gospel, we see God freely giving of Jesus and we see Jesus freely dying our place. The gospel is all about generous giving so that sinners can be reconciled to the Father.
When we give back our tithes and offerings to the Lord, we are picturing the gospel. Our giving mirrors what Jesus did and we can rejoice in the ability to be able to be generous in our giving like He was.
In addition, our giving enables the gospel to advance. This may sound very cold and business-like, but ministry costs money. In order to do missions, support missionaries, have quality children’s and youth ministries, and pay for ministry staff, and support the upkeep of our building, and all the other things we do as a church, it requires money.
But the ultimate goal in our giving is so that we can live up to our mission statement to display God’s glory, declare God’s gospel, and disciple for God’s Great Commission.
In two days, we will be making our pledges to the Lord for the next 3 years. Do you see our involvement in this as a way to model the gospel in your generosity and also to advance the gospel through your financial resources?
Spend some time right now asking God to grant you strength in Christ so that you can learn contentment. Ask Him to give you the power to practice financial stewardship for His glory and for the advancement of His gospel.
Help me to learn contentment. So many times I am impatient, worrisome, and jealous of others. I am not at peace with how You have blessed me. Please grant me by the power of the Spirit this contentment that Paul experienced. Lord, please give me the power to practice financial stewardship. I am so thankful for the strength You give me in all things. May I glorify You this day with my entire life.
In Jesus’ Name,