ARTICLES

On Generosity

There is no better advice I can give you regarding giving than this, start somewhere and grow. Honestly, that’s the best advice there is. Give a little and see what God will do with the gift and for you. Then, give a little more and see if His commitment to be good to you remains the same.

Paul sends some interesting greetings here. He’s mentioned in the letter a few of the people who are with him, such as Epaphroditus, and he now says hello on their behalf. But more interestingly, especially given the Philippians commitment to helping Paul spread the gospel, is the greeting from “all God’s people here” and “especially those who belong to Caesar’s household.” Let me translate:To you, the church I planted and love in Philippi, I send greetings from the church I have planted here during my imprisonment. Love it! 

There is some resistance to the idea that we can and should ask God for blessings both spiritual and material. In fact, I’ve heard people say that verse 19, the last sentence in the passage above about God meeting our needs with His riches, refers solely to spiritual needs. However, the context doesn’t support that limited reading. Paul is clearly talking about physical needs in this context. Plus, the language is pretty clear. “…all your needs” would be, in fact, all your needs, and “the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” includes absolutely everything.

There is little doubt that the Philippians loved Paul (and that their affection was returned in full measure). After all, they had received from him the message of the gospel, which had changed their lives! But it wasn’t just affection that fueled their giving. They were all in for the spread of the gospel to other communities. They were committed to Paul’s work, and so they were his partners in that work. That’s likely how they saw themselves, as partners and supporters.

Over the last 50 years, the standard of living has steadily increased in Western Europe and North America. For example, the size of the average home has more than doubled since the 1960s and spending on vacations and eating out have soared (Americans spend on average $1100 per year, per person on vacations). We have every imaginable creature comfort at our fingertips from dishwashers, to smart phones, to flat screen TVs.

My wife and I have done five things over and over again with our money for the last 20 plus years.  We aren’t rich – but we are blessed.  Our credit rating is in the top 3 percentile.  We own a lovely (but modest) home.  We wear nice clothing, drive cars that we like, and we don’t carry credit card debt. We don’t have everything we want, but we have everything we need, and a little more.  We have done five things consistently over the past 20 plus years that I want to share with you.  If you do these five things, you will be blessed.  The reason I can say this is because it has worked for me and for many, many people I have ministered to over the years.  And none of these things are original with us.  We have learned them from others, and we highly recommend them to you.

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