“Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account. But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God” (Phil. 4:17-18).
The things given by the Philippian congregation to Paul’s work are here identified as “a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God” (Phil. 4:18). Paul clearly points out that he was not interested in the material things given to him, but the fruit that came from their giving (cf. Phil. 4:17). There is something deeply spiritual about this fruit of sacrificial giving. Consider three qualities that come from such.
- Gratification in Helping. While the Philippians could not do Paul’s work for him, they could support his efforts. The sense of gratification that comes from doing good is one of the joys of the Christian’s life. Paul stated of this congregation’s history, “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” (Phil. 1:3-6). While Paul was grateful for their support, they could be grateful to be able to help on a full time basis. Such builds unity and enables the gospel to spread further and swifter. Things given were but the means to greater ends.
- Gaining in Selflessness. Philippi was one of those churches of Macedonia mentioned in Second Corinthians eight. It is said of those congregations, “How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; Praying us with much entreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God (2 Cor. 8:2-5). Selfishness was not in their character. If such had been the case, they would have never contributed to the benevolent need. After all, were they not already helping Paul in his preaching work? They would grow to do more and more.
- Growing in Love. The bottom line in sacrificial giving is to develop the love manifested by God Himself. John wrote, “But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:17-18). All commands to give are designed to produce the proper kind of love in the character of the Christian. Paul wrote of the purpose of commandments, “Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned” (1 Tim. 1:5). Think about that goal with these words in mind, “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7). Such giving produces an abundance of good works for the cause of Christ (cf. 2 Cor. 9:8). May this fruit of sacrificial giving be appreciated and abound!