14 Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction.
15 You yourselves also know, Philippians, that at the first preaching of the gospel, after I left Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving but you alone; 16 for even in Thessalonica you sent a gift more than once for my needs. 17 Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your account.
Paul here is reflecting the grace that the church of Philippians has shown Paul through supporting his ministry. He lifts up the church by telling them that they are at times the only ones helping him. However, let’s examine why he appreciates it.
Yesterday Paul talked about surviving through any circumstance with the grace and power of God. Therefore, he never really needed money or support, for the support of his ministry came from God. So then, why is it so important that Philippi supported Paul? To store their treasures in heaven:
In Mathew 6, Christ tells us: 19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
By supporting the Apostle Paul, the Church at Philippi was doing exactly this. Let’s think of the broad implications of this:
Internally – they were setting an example for the members of their church. By the church supporting at least one ministry as a whole, this nourishes the attitude of giving. I imagine that within the church, others were giving as well, whether directly to the community they were attached to or elsewhere. The same happens in our church. We have become a ministry to ministries, supporting those that are on the “front lines” in any way we can. This has spurned similar actions from the members on an individual level. Many people are involved in ministries outside the church, whether directly or by supporting them monitarily (like sponsoring a child).
Locally – Imagine the image they are projecting in the community. Not only are they showing what it looks like to give, but they are calling attention to Paul and his ministry. I’m sure that in this “advertisement” that some people are called to question and learn more about what is so important about Paul’s ministry. It might be the driving force that causes someone to sit and listen, whether in Philippi or elsewhere.
Globally – For a church to constantly send messengers with support says something, especially given the distances travelled. If the Roman Guard witnesses a man sent by a church hundreds of miles away, they might wonder, “what is the big deal with this guy? Maybe he has something important to say I should start listening to.” It furthers the kingdom.
The church at Philippi is keeping itself in a place of blessing by blessing others. This doesn’t just happen at the church level, it happens on the individual level as well. The church body is to build up and nourish its members. As the members participate in the Kingdom, they in turn encourage and nourish the weaker members. That’s teamwork. That’s family. That’s the way it was designed to operate.
How are you contributing?