Some Christians shy away from the mission field because they fear they will need to raise support. They either worry that they will be unsuccessful or feel uncomfortable about the perception that they are living off the charity of others. Paul had a very different view.
He wanted the Philippians to continue to support his ministry, not so much for his benefit but for theirs. In today’s passage, the apostle uses two metaphors to speak of their financial gifts. On the one hand, he describes their contribution as an investment that would produce dividends (v. 17). Paul’s desire for the Philippians was that more would be “credited” to their account. He describes their gift as “full payment” (v. 18). This language seems to imply an obligation of support on the part of the Philippians.
This is consistent with what Scripture says elsewhere. Jesus taught that “the worker is worthy of his keep” (Matt. 10:10). Paul describes this obligation as “the right of support” and observed that “the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel” (1 Cor. 9:12, 14).
The other metaphor Paul used in verse 18 to describe their support was that of a sacrifice. He characterized their gift as “a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.” Contrary to the teaching of the prosperity gospel, which appeals to greed, Paul’s theology of Christian giving was motivated by worship. Our giving has a practical aim in supporting God’s work, but it is ultimately an act of devotion. We give out of love for God. Giving must be more than a duty. God will accept only those gifts that are freely given.
>> When we support the Lord’s work, we express gratitude not only to those from whom we have received the benefit of ministry but ultimately to the Lord Himself. Do you have a plan for giving to the Lord included in your budget?
For those of us who receive ministry support: make us humbly and appropriately grateful, understanding that we receive from You. For those who give: make us joyful and generous, privileged to be used by You.