Warm up for the Hike
Consider sharing a memory you have of a time someone gave you an amazing gift. For me, it was a Pink Puppy Bike my parents gave me one Christmas morning when I was young. You know, the pink sparkly one with puppy stickers on the side and rainbow streamers coming out the handles? I smiled all day long!
In college I had the joy of guiding high school kids from across the nation on week-long backpacking trips through the Colorado mountains. For almost every kid the last day of the trip was one of the best days. After a week of sleeping outside, hiking rigorous terrain, and deep spiritual growth, everyone was ready for a shower and a nap. Back in base camp as campers arrived after a long week, everyone would gather for the greatest celebration we could possibly produce. As the campers left that night on buses to go back to their home states, the base camp staff would stay up late relishing the joy of a trip well done.
I hope in a small way this is how you feel after hiking with us this summer through Philippians. While there was probably less dirt between the toes and less gear to clean, I hope you tasted the deep spiritual gift of God washing away the grit and grime of our flesh and restoring us with graciousness and joy. I hope your spirit was strengthened as muscles are strengthened when hiking under the weight of a heavy pack, especially if this summer emotionally felt like an uphill battle. This week as we wrap up our study, I pray you feel the satisfaction of a trip where you gave it all you had, saw the glory, and are coming down the mountain to tell others about the beauty you saw; maybe even one day to hike back up the same trial with them so they might have the chance to experience what changed you.
Let’s dive into the end of Philippians and the joy of giving and supporting brothers and sisters in Christ.
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 more than once when I was in need.17 Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account. 18 I have received full payment and have more than enough. 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 the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. 20 To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
21 Greet all God’s people in Christ Jesus. The brothers and sisters who are with me send greetings. 22 All God’s people here send you greetings, especially those who belong to Caesar’s household. 23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.
Observation- What did the passage say?
- While Paul is content in every circumstance, he is thankful that the Philippians generously financially support him. (v 14)
- Right after Paul had helped plant the church at Philippi, he left to help plant other churches. During this time the Philippians sent him their first gift- and they were the only church plant to do so. (v 15)
- The Philippians have a history of being financial partners with Paul. (v 16)
- Paul emphasizes the eternal rewards of the Philippians’ earthly investments in his ministry. He thinks they are a beautiful sacrifice to God. (v 17-18)
- Paul believes God will meet all of the Philippians’ needs. (v 19)
Interpretation- what does the passage mean?
Verses 14-23 act as an epilogue to the book of Philippians. In this section Paul is letting the church know he received the gift and also to thank them for it. At that time it was possible for gifts such as the one being discussed to be lost or stolen quite easily, so this part of the book is practically very important for the contemporary audience. It is clear the church at Philippi deeply cared for Paul because of their willingness and consistency in generosity. We see Paul graciously receive their gifts, feeling loved and cared for as a family member of this church.
Dr. Constable makes an interesting assertion that the Philippians are giving as a sacrifice of worship, knowing God will meet their most pressing needs, as Paul states in verse 19. In this passage we get an insight into the love and generosity shared between the church at Philippi and Paul; it is clear the emphasis is not on the amount of their gift or the purpose of the gift, but the message of love, trust, and with-ness behind the gift. It is as if the church at Philippi has consistently said to Paul, “we love you, trust you and believe in the work God is doing through you- we are on your team!” by financially supporting him. What an incredible gift to someone in ministry!
Application- how does meaning of this passage apply to me?
Giving and receiving are gifts when both parties are focused on the mission of the Kingdom of God creates breathtaking ministry. Maybe you have felt the sting of a gift given to you with a hidden agenda or strings attached- this clearly not the way demonstrated by Paul and the church at Philippi. They give and receive joyfully because of relationships filled with trust, graciousness, and love.
Let us be women who chose to be friends and givers that help meet the needs we see in our spheres of influence because we know that we serve a God who sees and meets our greatest needs. This is Kingdom relationships defined by freedom and joy found in the book of Philippians, James 1:17, and Matthew 7:11. We have a Father who is so close to us he knows our every need, and has promised to meet what he knows is our greatest needs. Knowledge of this draws us to worship at his feet and give him back what he has given us because we rest in him.
Is there someone in your life in ministry that you could prayerfully consider financially supporting? If you currently financially support someone or give to your church, take the time today to text a short, “I believe in you and am on your team” or maybe “I believe God is using you to accomplish the work he has given you to do today, even if it is hard to see. I am praying for you” to that person or your pastor. Just like the passage we memorized together this summer, let’s be humble and vulnerable enough to spur one another on in love and good deeds. Join me in being sisters who support one another in the work God has given. All it takes is a simple text!