Giving should be a normal part of Christian fellowship (Acts 2:44-45). However, it can expose a minefield of motives, both for the giver and for the recipient. Paul wanted the church to be clear that in thanking them for their kindness, he was not making a subtle demand for more. He was grateful; but his dependency was on the Lord, not them. He certainly did not want to manipulate them for his own advantage - so that he might become rich at their expense (Philippians 4:10-13).
However, Paul was also concerned for them: he wanted to commend their giving as it was a progress-marker in their Christian lives. He wanted them to grow up as good followers of Jesus, for their characters to become like His and for Jesus to be glorified through their lives. Giving is a very important part of spiritual training, enabling the values of Jesus to be built into the character. And God uses it to care for others and to resource gospel ministry (Matthew 10:8).
Giving reflects God's nature, and the gospel. God loved ... so He gave (John 3:16). He gave Jesus to be our Saviour because He loved us and knew that we have no future without Him (Romans 5:6-8). Jesus' pattern of giving was self-denying and sacrificial and the pattern for all Christians (Romans 12:1). Jesus commended the poor widow for giving all that she had (Luke 21:1-4), but shamed the wealthy who refused to be poor so that others might have enough (Matthew 19:16-30), which was exactly the opposite of Jesus' motivation and mission (2 Corinthians 8:9). So, in commending Philippian giving, Paul was giving credit to their growth as disciples.
Alas, mixed and greedy motives often spoil both givers and receivers, and are no eternal credit to either. They have already had their reward (Matthew 6:1-4). Those who give in order to get back; those who only give what they don't want; those who ask for prayer but are really demanding money: those who receive without giving thanks and fail to give God the glory ... all these have no credit. Yes, a food shortage may be averted, mission travel and resources may be paid for, but if godliness of character remains static, there is no demonstration of God's grace or any blessing. However, when we give because we love Jesus and want to be true partners in the gospel, we grow in faith, and the reputation of Jesus grows among people who are yet to find Him. And if you need resources, don't forget that the Lord is your 'primary supplier'. We have no right to demand from others; and if sharing our needs becomes begging or even threatening, we have missed the point of grace. So today is a good time to examine your motives about money. Let the Lord shape your heart so that you will want to give, and receive, to His praise and glory.
© Dr Paul Adams