“Stewardship: Joyful Generosity”
It seems that some people refuse to give no matter what. I believe more people would give to God’s work through the Church if they just knew how fun it is! There is a great benefit to giving not only to the recipients of the gift, but to the givers, as well. Generosity brings great joy to everyone!
At least that’s what the believers in the First Century church at Philippi discovered. They had supported the Apostle Paul in his missionary efforts. So, Paul writes them a thank-you note, expressing his gratitude for their gifts. Only in the note, he does not tell them how much the gift helped him. No. He tells them how much their gift helped themselves!
When the Philippian believers gave, there was “fruit that increased to their credit”. And the same is true for everyone who gives. So…
- GIVE AND BRING PRAISE TO GOD——–V. 10
Give and increase God’s fame in the world. Give and cause people to rejoice in the Lord. That’s what Paul did when he received a gift from the Philippian believers. In verse 10 he said, “I rejoiced greatly in the Lord”. Their gift made his day. It lifted his spirit. It caused him to praise God, even though he was sitting in prison.
And do you know? Our giving will do the same. Our generosity will cause people to rejoice in the Lord and bring glory to God.
An article in The Washington Post gave the facts about what is really going on in the American Church when it comes to joyful generosity. Rob Schwarzwalder and Pat Fagan, the writers of that article said, “Broadly speaking, American churches are incredibly generous to the needs of a hurting world.” Then they presented some stats to back up that claim:
In 2009, overseas relief and development supported by all American churches exceeded $13 billion.
That compares to $5 billion sent abroad by foundations in the same year, $6 billion from private and voluntary relief organizations apart from church support, and $9 billion donated internationally by corporations.
In 2012 alone, the evangelical relief group World Vision spent “roughly $2.8 billion annually to care for the poor,” which ranks World Vision about 12th within the G-20 nations in terms of overseas development assistance.
In addition, Christian groups such as the UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief), Samaritan’s Purse, Food for the Hungry, World Relief, and many others provide hundreds of millions of dollars in anti-poverty programs and disasters at home and abroad.
And don’t forget the countless hours that churches (like ours), ministries, and individual believers devote to helping the poor. They and we are involved in food pantries, mobile meals and many more caring ministries all over the country.
The generosity of God’s people all over the world is a powerful witness to the love of Christ. Our giving brings great honor and glory to the Savior we profess.
My dear friends, our generosity will do the same. Our sacrificial giving will give powerful credibility to the Savior we profess. So, give and bring praise to God. More than that…
- GIVE AND PARTICIPATE IN THE SPREAD OF THE GOSPEL——–V. 14-15
Give and be a part of extending the good news of Jesus Christ around the world. Give and partner with those who proclaim the truth of God’s Word to a world in desperate need of Him.
That’s how the Philippian believers partnered with Paul. Paul tells them in verse 14, “you shared my troubles,” and in verse 15, “No church entered into a partnership with me… except you only.”
The words “shared” and “partnership” comes from the same root word in the original Greek language. It’s the word koinonia, and it means to have things in common or to share together. These Philippian believers shared in Paul’s troubles. They shared in his victories, and they shared in his ministry.
The Philippian believers, through their giving, were just as much a part of Paul’s ministry as he was! In other words, when Paul led somebody to Christ, they were a part of that. When Paul planted a church, they were a part of that. And when Paul stood before kings, they were a part of that too. Paul’s ministry was their ministry because they had given to support that ministry.
In the same way, when we give to support someone’s ministry through our apportionments, we’re just as much a part of that ministry as they are. When you give to support the ministry of Cornerstone United Methodist Church, you are just as much a part of this ministry as the pastor. When we give to support the spread of the gospel through our apportionments to the General Church, we are just as much involved as the one sharing the gospel in words and deeds. Our giving allows us to be a part of transforming lives for eternity!
Did you hear that? God not only made us to be recipients of His grace, but also participants in the movement of His own generosity. It’s an honor to give, a dishonor to only receive. So, give and bring praise to God. Give and participate in the spread of the Gospel. And finally…
III. GIVE AND PROFIT FROM IT YOURSELF——–V.17-19
Give and experience the fruit of your generosity. Give and discover the benefits of your liberality.
That’s what happened to the Philippian believers. In verse 17, Paul told them I don’t seek your gift, “but I seek the fruit it increases to your account.” In other words, Paul says your giving doesn’t profit me as much as it profits you! Then Paul continues in verses 18-28…
Philippians 4:18-20 I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen. (ESV)
Their gift was pleasing to God, which not only brought praise to God; it resulted in the promise of God’s rich provision. They had supplied some of Paul’s needs. Now Paul tells them, “God will supply all of their needs.”
That’s what happened to the Philippian believers, and that same thing can happen to us when we give!
There are some who say, “I can’t afford to give. I have too many bills to pay, too many mouths to feed, too many needs.” Well, I say, “You can’t afford not to give, because God promises to supply every need of yours when you do give.” You see, verse 19 is a promise for givers! It doesn’t apply to all Christians. It applies only to those who give.
For the believer, this doesn’t usually happen; it always happens, because God promised it! “My God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus”, not out of His riches, but according to those riches!
So, give and bring praise to God. Give and participate in the spread of the Gospel. Give and profit from it yourself. Amen!!!
Pastor John Punni