How would you define worship?
Worship encompasses all of life. It involves singing and praying, but it also includes our thinking, motives, actions and, yes, how we use wealth. Paul writes,
'Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account. I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.’ (Philippians 4:17-18)
Generous giving is an investment in our heavenly ‘account’. Jesus taught something similar when He said,
‘But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you…store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.’ (Matthew 6:3-4, 20)
Whatever the ‘rewards’ and ‘treasure in heaven’ are, let’s be assured that loving, worshipful generosity is pleasing and rewarded by God.
Paul described the Philippians’ gift as ‘a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.’ Paul is borrowing the imagery of burning incense or sacrifices to God. Sacrificial giving is worship. In speaking of the Philippian Church’s generosity to another church he writes,
‘And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity…They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us.’ (2 Corinthians 8:1-2, 5)
Notice that they ‘gave themselves first of all to the Lord’. Giving is, firstly, worship to God. It’s giving ourselves, including our resources to God. Such a heart of worship will, inevitably overflow in actual giving and will be pleasing to God.
A heart and mind of fear is tight-fisted. A heart of worship is open-handed. Giving as worship is inspired by the identity of Jesus and so is freed to trust and be generous in all circumstances. Let’s reset our heart on giving as worship by meditating and praying out of Jesus’ words,
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matthew 6:24)
COMMUNITY GROUP STUDY - PARTNERSHIP IN GIVING
It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.
Have you ever bought something in the past that turned out to be a complete waste of money?
Introduction - please share in your group
This week we finish our time in the book of Philippians by looking at Paul’s thankfulness to the Philippian Church for their generous gift to him in prison.
The secret to contentment
Paul shares a very important principle -‘secret’ in regard to contentment. He writes,
‘I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.’ (Philippians 4:11-13)
Following Jesus involves ups and downs in regard to income and what we would envisage as the ideal life. In a world that medicates on shopping and is constantly striving to get more, we must learn the secret of being content through trust and the strength that the Spirit provides.
Partnership in giving
‘Partnership’ (Koinonia) translated ‘share’ in our text today is a major theme in this book. Paul writes,
‘Yet it was good of you to share (partner) in my troubles. Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared (partner) with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only.’ (Philippians 4:14-15)
Christian ‘fellowship’ (a word often used for koinonia) involves generosity to our local church and brothers and sisters whom we know to be in need. For us at CCP, this also involves giving to New Ground the family of church that we are a part of.
In the context of Philippians 4:10-23, giving is described as worship with the attendant promise of provision. We read,
‘…the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.’ (Philippians 4:18-19)