I found myself spending time in Philippians chapter 4 recently, and I learned that Paul has some interesting things to teach us about giving money towards missions. Note my thoughts after the scripture.
(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. (Phil 4:15–19 , ESV)
- Giving is needed. This is obvious, but worth stating. Notice that the Philippians helped with Paul’s “needs” (v. 16) repeatedly
- Giving blesses the giver. This is the truth that struck me most sharply during my recent time in this text. Notice verse 17, where Paul writes that though the gifts sent by the Philippians were needed, what he really sought was the fruit that this giving would produce within the Philippians. I think American Christians don’t really believe this, and I also think missionaries frequently lose sight of this truth. (Might this also be related to the “receiving” in v. 15?
- Giving is a part of worship. This is clear from the end of v. 18. The gifts sent by the Philippians were “a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.” This is a clear allusion to the Old Testament sacrifical system, so here we have some evidence for continuity between the old and new covenants. But more basically, it is worth stating that those gifts given sacrifically, with a cheerful heart (2 Cor 9:7), are pleasing to God.
- Giving will be repaid. Paul says in v. 19 that since the Philippians supplied his needs, that God will supply their needs. This seems to point to spiritual needs, as the credit God draws on are “his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”