Intro: Are you rejoicing today? Isn’t it correct to say that every Christian has reason to rejoice every day?
- Psalm 35:9– And my soul shall be joyful in the Lord; It shall rejoice in His salvation. (NKJV) I hope you have many reasons to be joyful today.
Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi is known as the epistle of joy, because he encourages rejoicing through out the book. In fact the word joy, rejoice, or rejoicing appear 16 times in the book. In our study through this book in 2018 we have encountered this theme several times.
The last occurrence of the word rejoice (chairo– Khah-ee-ro) is in chapter 4, verse 10. I want to begin there and read the concluding words of Philippians.
- Phil 4:10-19 – But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. 11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. 14 Nevertheless you have done well that you shared in my distress. 15 Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only. 16 For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities. 17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account. 18 Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God. 19 And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. 20 Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.
- “I Rejoiced in the Lord Greatly…” – v.10–The apostle was not just sorta joyful, he rejoiced greatly!Knowing that he was probably in Roman custody at the time, why was he so glad?
- There was a very personal reason for Paul to share his joy with the Philippian church. They sent him financial support, and as such, fellowshipped him in his ministry. Notice that the verb is past tense. He had rejoiced because of something that happened earlier. What we learn from the following verses is that Paul had received a gift from this church – in the form of financial support. He takes the opportunity to say thank you.He rejoiced to receive it. Who wouldn’t rejoice to get a gift?
- Although they were prohibited from sending to Paul for a while (lacked opportunity), they had recently “revived”their concern for Paul and contributed to his ministry. Paul’s terminology here is intriguing. He says their concern for him was revived, but that he knows it never really went away.
- He says, “that now at length ye have revived your thought for me,” using a verb (Grk– anathallo) meaning “to shoot up, sprout again, grow green again, flourish again”.
- The word “care”(NKJV) isphroneo (fron-eh’-o) means thought or to be mindful of, be intensely concerned in a certain direction. (Paul uses it negatively to describe the carnal person who mindsearthly things – 3:19). The recent gift was evidence that their thoughts of him had flourished again, but he says they had indeed been concerned for him, even when they could not send him support. They had a desire t help even when they could not. Paul rejoiced in that.
- A Deeper Reason for Rejoicing: But was it the reception of the gift that made Paul rejoice? Do you know who said, “It is more blessed to give than receive”? The quotation is found in Acts 20:35 in Paul’s speech to the Ephesian elders. Paul attributed these words to Jesus. It is of interest to note that this is the only quotation recorded outside the gospels of a statement spoken by Jesus while He was on earth. The apostle quotes it to these elders as though it is a well-known statement. It may have been a proverbial saying by the time Paul references it. The word “blessed” would include the idea of joyfulness, or gladness. It is more joyful to give than receive. That is Paul’s point here. His joy went deeper than just a gift received. He rejoiced more in their willingness to give than in his opportunity to receive. It seems to me that these verses can be subdivided into Paul’s expression of joy, followed by 3 explanations intended to clarify the real source of his joy concerning their support. There is a real lesson on the value of giving and receiving in this text.
- “Not that I speak in regard to need..” Paul was appreciative of the gift, but the improvement in his personal circumstances, relief from want, was not the deepest reason for his joy.
- The apostle’s joy is rooted in the blessing of the giver over the recipient of the gift. But before we see how that is developed here, consider what made it possible for Paul to experience this different kind of joy.
- He had learned to be content. Phil 4:11-13 For I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. We addressed these verses in an earlier lesson, so we will not explore it again here. We defined contentment as – a peaceful satisfaction with the blessings God has already provided, regardless of what may or may not be gained in the future. Paul’s satisfaction with his circumstances – whether plenty or little – gave him the power to draw joy from a deeper source. If I only judge the value of a gift by how well it satisfies my wants (or even needs) then it will be difficult to see anything beyond that qualification.
- Some Steps Toward Contentment:
- Make an Unconditional Commitment
- Learn to Give, Rather than Trying to Get
- Subtract From Your Needs
- Accept What God Gives
- “You have done well”– Phil 4:14-16 – “Nevertheless you have done well that you shared in my distress. 15 Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only. 16 For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities.Paul did not want to be misunderstood. Although he was content, whether he received their gift or not, he Paul did not want the Philippians to think their gift was lightly esteemed or considered to be of no importance.
- He makes a spiritual or moral assessment. “You have done well”. The word for “well” (kalos – kal-oce’). It can mean beautifully, excellently, even nobly But kalos is often translated “good”, and refers to moral goodness, or rightness. Jesus defended his actions by saying… “Therefore, it is lawful to do good (kalos) on the Sabbath.” (Matt. 12:12). James says that if we love our neighbor as ourselves we do well (kalos) (James 2:8) .Why was this giving a good thing?
- “Sharing with me in my hardship”(v. 14) – One reason their contribution to Paul was good, was because it was an act of fellowship. Although they were not personally with Paul as he suffered for the cause, Paul acknowledges that they shared in it with him through the support they provided.
- “shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving” (v. 15) – He uses the phrase shared with again (compound form of the same word – koinoneo – koy-no-neh’-o) which means to share in or with. Paul recounts the previous support they had provided when he first brought the gospel to Macedonia, and states that the gifts from Philippi were entirely voluntary and unsolicited. (Even during a time when Paul was refusing support from other churches, they gave more than once.) The Philippians, therefore, certainly distinguished themselves by such free will offerings. And Paul was not untouched.
- Paul uses an accounting metaphor (giving and receiving – credits and debits) to describe what they shared in. The Lenski says that only the Philippian church opened up“a ledger account with credit and debit columns”. They gave, and he received. Paul will reintroduce this “ledger” analogy later on. But again,Paul was not rejoicing because he had received anything on his side of the ledger.
- “I am Full” – Another explanation was in order here. Paul did not want the Philippians to think he was praising their gift as an encouragement to them to send more. He says in verse 18 – “Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you,” Their previous support was good because it provided what all he needed.
III. The Joy of Giving and Receiving – In v. 17-20 Paul identifies why he is rejoicing about their gift. He did not seek the gift, but the fruit that came as a result of their gift. The fruit (profit) was not what he received from them, but rather what they received (or would receive) from God.
- It was profit to their account: Phil. 4:17 – Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account. 18 Indeed I have all and abound. Paul returns to the bookkeeping metaphor. “Account” is from the Greek logos, the same technical usage that was employed back in verse 15: “an account of credit and debit (giving and receiving).”
- When the Philippians sent to Paul, they opened up an account with him (so to speak) – so much given, so much received. But Paul points out that they also opened up an account in heaven. Paul was not the only one who would receive, and they were not the only one who would give.
- Their giving was actually a deposit into an interest bearing account. And the real reason for Paul’s joy was not what he received, but what he knew the Philippians would receive from their giving-“the fruit (profit, gain, advantage) that increases to your account.”
- Recall Jesus’ words about laying up treasure in heaven Matthew 6:19-21 – “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal;20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
- It was a sacrifice to God: In v. 18 he describes their giving as “a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God. (a fragrant offering, a welcome sacrifice, pleasing to God. – HCSB) The language is common in the Old Testament with reference to sacrifices. When Noah came from the ark, his first order of business was to offer a sacrifice of every clean animal and bird on the ark. It says God smelled the sweet aroma of the sacrifice, and promised never to destroy the earth again with water (Gen. 8:21) Later on the sacrifices of the O.T. law were described as a “sweet aroma to the Lord”
- It was not the literal smell that satisfied God, but the spiritual state of the person bringing them. Psalms 51:16-17 – 16 For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart –These, O God, You will not despise.Their willingness to give to Paul and his work was a willingness to freely give to God and His work. God took pleasure in it. (more on the sweet aroma we offer to God in later lesson)
- God would pay into their account: There would be a return on their investment. Paul may not have been able to repay the Philippians, but Paul’s God was abundantly able. And he would be in no man’s debt. Phil. 4:19 – “And my God shall supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus“
- God is rich!He supplies every need of ours through “his riches in glory in Christ Jesus“. He will never have a deficiency that leaves him unable to supply our need.
- 2 Cor 9:7-11 – 7 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. 9 As it is written: “He has dispersed abroad, He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever.” 10 Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, 11 while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God.
- D. What are the lessons here for us? Joy is the fruit of giving, not receiving. Paul rejoiced when others were willing to give. But his joy was not selfish. It did not rest in what he received, but what God would give to others.
- Give generously: It is a noble (good) thing for us to give to each other’s needs and also support the preaching of the gospel (both individually and as a church) – Acts 2:44-47 – 44 Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. 46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved. Sincere generosity is as true an indicator of authentic Christianity as baptism and acapella singing.
- Rejoice when others are willing to give to you. It can be a tendency to refuse help from others. It may be that we do not think we need help. We are an independent bunch. It might be that we are too proud to accept help. But God expects us to cheerfully give and graciously receive, knowing that the gift of others is their sacrifice of a sweet aroma to God, and that God will supply their every need.
- Recognize the true value of the giving – what it provides to the giver, not just the recipient. Finish reading with me from 2 Corinthians 9. Paul is telling the Corinthians the result of their generosity. v. 11-15 – 11 You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. 12 This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. 13 Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. 14 And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. 15 Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! (NIV) Paul says the Corinthians willingness to give to the needs of their Jewish brothers would do more than just meet their physical need. A deeper joy would result.
- your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God …overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. – Those who received the gift would thank God.
- men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, others will see that your obedience matches your confession.
- in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you– They will pray for you
- men will praise God… because of the surpassing grace God has given you. – God will get the glory. Your willingness & opportunity to give is God’s indescribable gift. That is why Paul was rejoicing. God was being glorified. Is there any better reason for us to be joyful?
Conclusion: There is real joy in giving & receiving. The giver is enriched more than the recipient. But you can’t outgive God. And His giving does not enrich Him, but me, the recipient. The greatest joy is found in the gift that God gives. God’s greatest gift is His Son. Rom 5:15 – 15 But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. Will you receive the gift that God gives?