Summary: Working through the book of Philippians using consecutive expository preaching. Philippians 4:14-19
Sermon: “The Gift that Keeps on Giving”
Pastor John Bright
Philippians 4 “14 Nevertheless you have done well that you shared in my distress. 15 Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only. 16 For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities. 17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account. 18 Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God. 19 And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
“A former archbishop of Canterbury arrived in New York. A journalist asked him, “Will you be visiting any of our nightclubs whilst you are here?” The archbishop mischievously replied, “Are there any night clubs here?” Next day a newspaper headline read: “Archbishop’s first question on arriving in New York: ‘Are there any night clubs here?’” How easy it is to misquote or misunderstand without a context!”
In my last sermon, I talked a little bit about context. Today, I want to share more because we have another verse today that is often taken out of context. Context is like the “Big Picture” or what we talk about when we use the phrase – “Can’t see the forest for the trees.” If I tell you – “We have to read Philippians 4 verses 13 & 19 in light of the verses 11 & 12” – would you understand what I mean. Context is like a light. It is the light that keeps us from stumbling around in the dark. Context is the Big Picture and the Bible has an overall context:
There is one Creator – God
There is one Race – Humanity
There is one Problem – Sin
There is one Solution – Jesus Christ
The context helps us read our Bibles… and the times in which we live!
Paul begins by telling them they are united – v.14-16
“14 Nevertheless you have done well that you shared in my distress. 15 Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only. 16 For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities.
There are some differing beliefs about unity today. We are witnessing a time of plummeting viewership for professional sports as they seek to offer displays of unity with people of color before during and after the game. October 21st is Nation Unity Day in the schools where folks wear orange and speak out against bullying. And there are some folks who seek unity in all religions, even going so far as suggesting we adopt a single “One-World” religion. Just in case you have not read the end of the Bible – that last one is mentioned clearly as a part of the Last Days. Maybe that’s why Jesus told us: “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” Matt. 10:16
Paul is looking at their past dealings and their faithfulness. He feels a connection to them that comes from someone caring about you and your situation. They had helped him during his ongoing travels and now they have helped him while he is incarcerated. Have you ever noticed that we tend to expect folks to act or behave the way they did in the past? Paul is doing the same thing here.
Let me say this again – Paul has received help for what was necessary to meet his physical needs – he was not asking for a fancy car or a private jet. In v. 16, he uses this phrase – “for my necessities.” He would have had expenses when he traveled during his years in ministry. He would have had needs when getting settled in a new location. I can only imagine going from place to place like that… actually – I have experienced it as a UM pastor. In the old days they had a “Pounding” for the new pastor and family. When they arrived at the parsonage the cupboard would have a pound of flour and a pound of sugar. There would be supplies to help them while everyone settled into the new appointment. Today it tends to be gift cards and cleaning supplies. I have been at my current appointment for over a year and I still have not needed to buy most cleaning supplies because so many were donated when I moved here in 2019.