Summary: When we have begun the journey towards a better mind, learning the secret of contentment, we can begin to see the beauty of giving. Out of our contentment we find it is actually part of our worship to give.
GROWING A GENEROUS HEART
There is a natural progression to these sermons we have been hearing. Growing a beautiful mind led easily into growing a contented spirit. As we have learned to rejoice in the Lord and control our anxiety through prayer we laid a foundation for being content in whatever situation we find ourselves in. Now with a joyful heart and a contented spirit we move to the next level to grow a generous heart.
I find it interesting and it makes a lot of sense that when we are content with our stuff that it is easier to give it away. Living the life of joy, as Paul has described it, is a life that expresses itself in generosity. So you may not have seen this coming but this is a lesson on giving.
For some of us the topic of giving is as fun as going to the dentist. Our money, our possessions, our wealth are all sacred cows to us. That is, we don’t like it when people touch them or examine them. It feels quite uncomfortable. And every so often the pastor has to remind us that we have to give.
There is a story of two business men who were flying to a conference overseas. The small plane they were in developed engine problems and they had to crash land on a deserted island. One of the men began to cry stating that he will never get to see his kids grow up and never tell his wife how much he loved her. The other man simply leaned against a palm tree and fell asleep. His friend woke him and confronted him – “How can you sleep? Don’t you care that we are going to die on this island?” At this the calm companion said, “I am not worried at all. I make $500,000 a year and I always faithfully give ten percent to my church. I know my pastor will find me!”
What we want to do this morning is study this final component that is essential for our joy in the Lord. I hope to convince or affirm you that growing a generous heart makes us joyful worshipers of God. Let’s look at 4:14-20.
1. Sharing is a means of Christian Fellowship
Previously Paul had told the Philippian church that he was so thankful that they had renewed their concern for him. But, he said, I am not in need. Rather, he was quite content in his situation and had learned the secret of contentment for any situation.
Paul was non ungrateful for their concern and wanted to affirm their generosity. So he said, “Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. 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; for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid again and again when I was in need” (4:14-16).
Twice he uses the word “share” in this encouragement. In English we can’t see it but there is a special word buried in the Greek construction that we have heard before. That word is “koinonia,” the partnership of believers in the common cause of Christ. As Paul saw it, generosity was inseparable from Christian relationships. It was a means of Christian fellowship.
His needs were their needs. They felt his needs and responded to them. His suffering did not go unnoticed but touched them deeply so that they fellowshipped in his need.
We see this principle expressed in other parts of the Bible as well. John wrote, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3:16-18).
John appeals to the extreme love and sacrifice of Jesus as our motivator to give to people in need. Jesus gave it all; could we not give a little? But our excuses pop up and we evaluate the need of the so-called needy. We point to their lack of financial management or their self-defeating ways and say “they don’t deserve my hard earned money.” Or maybe we think that if we earned more money we could give more too.
The Philippians did not think this way. They gave because there was a need. And they didn’t want to miss out on the joy of sharing in Paul’s troubles. Weird huh? But cool just the same.