Summary: A sermon to help us restore some of the joy in giving - by taking a careful look at what happens when we give
Introduction : (Play pollination video silently as I speak)
Hummingbirds, bees, bats, even butterflies - They fly around. Maybe they annoy or scare us. Unless we’re paying attention to them, they’re doing something really important we don’t realize at the time – they’re pollinating, well, most everything that needs to pollinate!
And, they don’t even realize it at the time. I don’t claim to read the mind of a bat, but I seriously doubt they are thinking to themselves, “Just doing my part for the plant world!” They’re just trying to eat – but the whole time they do it, they’re getting covered with pollen, and they scatter that pollen where it needs to go. They don’t realize what’s going on while they’re just trying to eat! (stop video here)
The Bible talks about what happened when we were baptized; when we confess our sinfulness; when we pray, when we worship, when we forgive, when we humble ourselves, when we draw near to God.
This morning, I want to talk about what happened during the offering. You may not have realized it – not who got up for a break, what song was sung, or what was that loud clunk that sounded like someone hitting his head on the pew. I mean, as you were dropping in a check or bills, what was happening? What was going on there that goes beyond just someone moving money from their account into the church’s general fund? You were just putting your offering in the plate.
There has to be more to it than that, right? And there is, because something was happening… something was happening during the offering…
I. You’re Connected With the Work (14-16)
To more fully appreciate the setting as Paul writes this letter, we need to look back to that time when he first visited the Philippians.
Acts 16:11 - the Lord tells Paul in a vision to travel to Philippi and he goes. He stays there “for some days.” (about 6 or less) because it’s on the Sabbath that they find a place of prayer and preach the gospel for the first time there. Lydia responds and becomes a disciple, and now Paul and Silas stay “many days”(18). Over those days, Paul and Silas upset some of the locals and they’re beaten and thrown into the prison. There, the jailor also becomes a disciple, and Paul and Silas are released because they had been unfairly put in prison. Apparently, a church has started and is using Lydia’s house as a gathering place. Then, ch 17, they travel on the Thessalonica. They’re there for at least 2-3 weeks as they reason with the Jews. They sneak away and go to Berea in 17:11. After some days there, the Jews from Thessalonica stir up trouble and Paul ends up sneaking away to Athens in 17:14. Later, he’ll go to Corinth, and ultimately to Antioch where, like any good missionary, on a Wednesday night at Church, he’ll show slides and display little instruments, hankies, coins, and postcards from Macedonia.
Paul is looking back to these days of his 2nd missionary journey when he says to the Philippians:
Philippians 4:14 …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.
Now, stop and remember back to all the comments of such a personal nature in this letter. How much time had Paul spent with these people? Not nearly as long as some places. It looks like it was several days – that’s it. Still, there’s this connection between Paul and this church. We don’t have a highly personal letter Paul wrote to the Church in Derbe, Lystra, Iconium, Paphos, Perga, or Pisidian Antioch. What makes the church in Philippi stand out is the way they supported Paul while others weren’t. It was this “matter of giving and receiving.” At some point, they had taken it upon themselves to support the missionary effort, not long after they were established as a church. Even though they were about 100 miles away, and even though Paul’s stay in Thessalonica was only about 3 weeks, Philippi sent him financial help – more than once.
Philippians 4:16 …you sent me aid again and again when I was in need.
Have you ever noticed how something becomes “our work” instead of “their work” when you’ve contributed to it financially?
They hadn’t just “shared money,” they had “shared in his troubles.” There was a connection there, and some of it went back to the time when they collected an offering and sent it to Paul.