June 4, 2011 Devotion Sharing

Submitted by Gary Chang, Gracepoint Davis

Philippians 4:10-19

How did the Philippians distinguish themselves from the other churches with respect to their relationship with Paul?  What kind of relationship did Paul have with the Philippians as a result?  What is the relationship between “money” and “relationships”? The Philippians distinguished themselves from the other churches with respect to their relationship with Paul through their repeated supplying of financial aid to relieve of Paul’s needs.  And this was something that the Philippian church has been doing ever since “the early days of their acquaintance with the Gospel,” as in the matter of giving and receiving they were the only church that provided for Paul at the time.  And the church kept up this practice faithfully as while Paul was in Thessalonica they continued to send him aid “again and again.”  And now, the Philippian church has again sent Paul a monetary gift.

There is such active love and ownership of care fro Paul by the Philippian church, and as the result from Paul’s tone in this letter one can readily tell that there is such appreciation, gratitude, relational closeness and kinship that Paul feels toward the church.  The Philippian church’s financial giving caused Paul to “rejoice greatly” and to feel really loved by them.

I try to imagine what it’s like for Paul to receive these gifts from the church.  There he was laboring and suffering for the Gospel in trying to build churches and facing the persecutions and enduring the frequent suffering that he faced.  A lot of times for Paul he had to face these trials alone.  I can imagine how there can be a lot of discouragement and disappointment from these trials on Paul’s part, and therefore how much encouragement, strength, rejuvenation and love that Paul can feel upon receiving the financial gifts from the Philippian church.  Paul would feel that he is really loved and cared for, that his ongoing labor in the Lord is not in vain because here is the Philippian church being that source of strength and encouragement to him in his time of need.  And I can imagine how this gift can cause Paul’s heart to be lifted up and to feel renewed and recharged to once again embrace the work of evangelism and church-building.

Money, as much as it can become an instrument used by Satan to lure us into idolatry and sin, can be just as powerful as a source of blessing through which relationship is brought to intimacy and deeper fellowship, and people can feel strengthened and loved.  Money is also the concrete means through which love can be powerfully expressed.  We see this happening with Paul and the Philippian church, as the church’s faithful giving to Paul throughout the years caused Paul to know that he is loved and cared for by the church.  And as Paul knows that the church is giving despite their own financial lacks, Paul feels strengthened in knowing that the church is partnering with him in suffering for the Gospel.

And we saw this with the extravagant farewell last night for P. Joong and Susanna.  As people together filled six long tables full of food; spent countless hours of time and labor and staying up many nights to make the different videos and choreographing and practicing for the “Thank You” song; and contributed financially to the different gifts given to them, we saw a living example right in our midst of how money, time, energy lavishly poured out can become expressions of love that enabled them to feel deeply loved and cared for by the whole congregation.  Imagine if people felt sentiments of love and gratitude for P. Joong and Susanna, but held back on being extravagant, they would not only not feel loved and cherished by the church, in fact they would be hurt and feel chilled relationally from us.  So money, time, labor poured out lavishly can play this kind of powerful role in expressing love and bringing relationship closer.

Why would God consider the Philippians’ gift to Apostle Paul as “a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing” to him?  How can I be storing up treasures in the “account” that’s being held by God?

God would consider the Philippians’ gift to Paul as “a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing” to Him because the financial giving was made out of love for Paul with a willing and cheerful attitude.  It was not given begrudgingly, but out of the desire to love Paul and encourage and strengthen Paul through concrete means of financial support.  Just like the previous DTs we did in Amos, we know that God again and again cares more about the heart and intentionality behind the offerings.  In Amos, we see God rejecting the offerings made by the Israelites because it was in form only, a mere religious display divorced from the people’s heart behind them.  Bu here we see the exact opposite as Paul tells the Philippian church that what they have given him out of love and cheerful willingness is a fragrant offering and acceptable sacrifice to God.

In a similar way, I am called to store up treasures in Heaven that will not rust.  I am reminded that I, too, should use money for investing into loving people and God’s Kingdom purposes.  Especially from the recent example of the Macedonian church that gave generously out of their “extreme poverty,” I am reminded to never allow my perceived financial lack to cause me to hold back from using money to love my brothers and sisters and providing for their needs.  In addition, God has given me the resources of time, energy, language ability and other talents.  All of them should be deployed to be maximally used by God for His Kingdom purposes.  With my time and energy, I can do so by pushing myself more to serve God and this church in whatever capacity that I can, especially as I am one of the older ones and should be a good role model for the younger guys to follow.  With my language ability I can use it to abridge the language barrier for the Chinese exchange students and scholars in IGSM so that they can better understand the Gospel.  And I can use my language ability to provide the ongoing assistance in translating various things for the Taiwan ministry.

 

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