Our Generosity Brings Joy (and Blessing) to Us
Philippians 4:17-19 Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account. 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. And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
Biblical commentators point out the financial flavor of the language in verse 17. When we give, God puts a credit in our account. That is to say, He sees and remembers that gift and chooses to do good to us because of it. That being said, it’s inevitable that someone will be asking, “Should I really give with the desire for God to bless me in some way?” I’m going to give you a straightforward, theologically rooted answer—yes. It should not be the only reason we give, but our personal good and gain is part of the equation of giving, according to the Bible.
“Give and it shall be given to you…for with the measure you use, it will be measured to you again.”
- Jesus, Luke 6:38
“Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.”
- Solomon, Proverbs 3:9-10
“I have obeyed the Lord my God [through giving]; I have done everything you commanded me. Look down from heaven, your holy dwelling place, and bless your people…”
-Moses, Deuteronomy 26:14-15
It is appropriate for me to pray when I’m putting my check in the offering plate or clicking the online giving button. And not just for and about the people who will receive the good effect of my gift, but also for me, that I will be blessed as God promised. This is often my prayer. For me, for my wife, for my children, and for my friends and church community.
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.
When I say that generosity is good for you, I don’t mean that it gives you warm fuzzy feelings and I don’t only mean that it makes God happy with you. It probably does make you feel good, and it certainly pleases God. But giving is good for you because God has promised to provide richly for you, in ways both tangible and intangible, when you are generous with the resources He entrusts to you.