December 18, Sunday

Note: The AMI QT Devotionals from December 11-17 are written by Phillip Chen, college pastor intern at Church of Southland. Philip, a graduate of University of California, San Diego, is currently studying at Talbot School of Theology.  He is married to Esther.   

Devotional Thought for Today

Philippians 4:14-20 (ESV)

Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. 15 And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. 16 Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. 17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit.  18 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.19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. 20 To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.

18Last week, I had the opportunity to share with the children of our church in their AWANA program that it is better to give than to receive, and that God loves a cheerful and generous giver.  I shared of an infamous story of a child at the Church of Southland, who had a very difficult time giving. Every time the offering bag was passed around, he would take the money that his parents had given him, clench it in his fist, lower his fist into the offering bag, and pull his hand back out—with the money still in his hands.  When a teacher asked him why he didn’t put it in, he exclaimed, “It’s so hard to give!” From a young age, we have found that it is harder to give than to receive. We see giving as a burden rather than a blessing.

Though we might think that this will change as we get older, it’s not something that we simply grow out of. When I was in high school, I treated tithes and offerings as a tax. I found a loophole in this “tax system” though, which helped me justify to myself why I didn’t need to give. Since the money that was given to me was from my parents, and they had already tithed for it, whatever I received was a “post-tithe contribution” that did not need to be tithed again—how twisted my mindset was on giving!  Yet it would not surprise me if there are many others who think exactly like me, where giving becomes something that we try to get out of, rather than something that we embrace and desire more opportunities to give.

In this passage, Paul is thanking the Philippians for their generosity. They had been faithfully giving very generously to Paul and his work for the gospel, when he was establishing different church plants. Paul does not emphasize the amount that they give, only their attitude and partnership in their giving. Here, he shares his true intentions in receiving support from this church – that they would receive the fruit that increases to their credit. Their giving not only blesses Paul in the earthly sense, but they are being credited with eternal rewards in the heavenly sense. Paul had just gone through a discourse of being content in any situation; he has been in abundance and in lack, and so he really has no need of their giving. Even if they were not able to give much, he had committed himself to working as a tentmaker so that he would be able to support himself in his gospel endeavors. Nevertheless, Paul rejoices when he thinks about the Philippian believers because their attitude towards giving reflects their growing in maturity as believers. They are learning to invest in the right things, and that makes Paul happy as their spiritual father.

As we mature as believers, I hope that we are maturing in our capacity and our attitude in giving. Do we see giving as an opportunity to invest in something great and lasting, or do we see it as a mandatory item on our check-list of being a Christian? For some, giving resources might not be difficult, but giving time in serving those who are in need might be what is most difficult. It can be difficult to give, especially when we feel as we have nothing left to give, but just as Paul says, “God will supply every need of yours according to the riches in Christ Jesus.” Faithful giving begets faithful giving.

Prayer: Father, I confess that it is hard to give at times. Help me to see giving as an opportunity rather than a burden. I pray that Your Holy Spirit would work in my heart so that I might mature in this manner. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 1 Kings 8-9

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