Sermons

Summary: Giving is one of the key ways to produce encouragement. Givers create grateful hearts, and the world can never have too many grateful hearts.

Winston Churchill use to love to tell the story about the family

who were having a picnic by the lake, and the little boy fell into the

water by accident. The family did not see it, but a stranger passing

by saw the boy slip under the water, and fully clothed, he leaped into

the lake and rescued the little guy from drowning. He presented the

boy to his mother alive and well. Instead of thanking the stranger

for his heroic effort, she snapped, "Where is his cap?"

Some people have the neurotic ability to be discontent in

whatever state they are. No matter how much there is to be grateful

for, they have an eagle eye that can spot that hidden detrimental

detail that others overlook. Such eagle eyed, or should we say, evil

eyed, people are what we call neurotic. All of us pass through this

valley from time to time, and we feel a negativism that says, I just

don't like reality as it is. Karen Horney says, the psychotic is one

who says two plus two equals five. They are out of touch with

reality. The neurotic says, two plus two equals four, but I don't like

it. The neurotic is in touch with reality, but it is reality that they

can't stand.

Paul is far removed from this category, for he goes so far as to

say, even if reality is not to his liking; even if it falls short of basic

expectations, he has the ability to be content. Let's face it, there are

few Christians who can boast such a well-balanced personality.

Paul was not always this way himself. In his B. C. days, before

being converted by the Savior, he was a malcontent if there ever was

one. He was ranting and raving about reality, and by anger and

force he was trying to change reality to his liking. He was

determined to sink the Christian ship, and restore reality to its

previous stability. He could not be content until he had external

circumstances in the shape he considered ideal. That is why he was

arresting Christians, and even killing some.

Now, he says that in Christ he has the power to do everything.

That is, he can be content whether he lives in poverty, or in plenty.

The external circumstances are no longer the determining factor in

his contentment. Now he has a sense of peace and security in Christ

that enables him to disregard the externals. He does not have to

change reality to be content, for the reality of what he has in Christ

can never change, and that unchanging rock is the foundation on

which he builds his house of contentment.

The fascinating thing we note about Paul here is that he does not

become a Stoic. The Stoics taught that man should learn to be

content whatever the external circumstance, be they good or bad.

But they went one step further and said that man should free himself

from the emotions that go with good and bad circumstances. They

said you should not feel joy or grief, but be indifferent to pleasure or

pain, and keep your feelings on a dead level plateau regardless if you

are at a wedding or a funeral. The Stoics were indifferent to

feelings.

This is not what Paul is about at all, and not what Christians are

to be, for it is not Christlike to be unfeeling. Paul could, like his

Lord, weep with those who weep, and rejoice with those who rejoice.

And in this very text that highlights his contentment he reveals just

how emotional he could be as he expresses himself concerning the

gift from his good friends in Philippi. Paul is so moved by their

generosity to him that he ends his letter to them with this fairly

lengthy thank you note exalting their gift, and giving spirit. Even

calls their gifts a fragrant offering, and acceptable sacrifice pleasing

to God.

For a man content to go without, he sure goes wild with praise

when he gets to go with. There is no Stoic indifference to feelings in

Paul. He lets them all hang out, and in so doing, teaches us some

powerful lessons in Christian giving. The first thing we see here is

the importance of-

I. THE RENEWAL OF GIVING.

Notice how Paul is so delighted in verse 10 where he says, "At last

you have renewed your concern for me." The Greek word is

anathallow, and it means to flourish, or shoot up again. Paul has

gone through a winter of neglect, but now spring has sprung, and

they have renewed their giving to him. Vincent translates it, "Ye

cause your thinking on me to bloom anew..." Alford has it, "Ye

budded forth again in caring for my interests." The point is, out of

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