by Jordan Standridge (original source here)
By the time the average human being reaches the age of 20, he will have watched one million commercials. 1,000,000. Think about that. Most people will watch almost four million commercials in their lifetime, and that’s only talking about regular cable television. Four million times you are being told that you need things. You are being told how to use your money. You are being told what will bring you happiness. Every one of us is willing to subject ourselves to this and very seldom do we question the motives of the advertisers despite the fact that they don’t have our best interest at heart, they simply want to make money.
In the church, it is the opposite. People complain all the time about churches being “money-hungry” or “greedy.” Many people leave churches if they feel that the pastor talks about giving too much. But Paul never shied away from talking about it. Not only did he talk about it, he asked for it and thanked people for their gifts. But, at the end of Philippians, we see something incredible. Paul believes that the Philippians will benefit from giving to him. Not because he is anything special, but because he believes that giving towards the progression of the Gospel will bring great blessings to the life of a believer.
You and I are called to give. In the New Testament, there isn’t a specific amount or percentage that we should give, but we are to give sacrificially and with great joy. Each person is called to give in secret and each person is accountable to God for every single dime that they spend during their lifetime. And while it is too easy for so many pastors to give rules and to tell people what they can and can’t buy, Paul uses a different approach. In Philippians 4:14-19 he tries to persuade people to give by telling them how much they will be blessed. He doesn’t tell you not to buy the extra house or to not go on that vacation, but he does try to encourage you to be willing to sacrifice your rights because of the great blessings you will receive. So, here are four incredible blessings of giving.
1) It progresses the Gospel
“…no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving but you alone…” Phil 4:15
Paul says something incredible here. Because the church in Philippi gave, they became partners with him. They partook in Gospel ministry with Paul. The idea of sharing here brings Paul and the Philippians together in this work. Every missionary needs a sender and the Philippian church longed to hear of how their money was advancing the Gospel.
I remember coming on furlough with my parents to the United States. One church, in particular, announced my father as missionary number 276 on a Sunday morning. While I’m sure the $20 he received from the church was helpful and he was grateful for it, there was a sense in which they weren’t close partners in crime for the Gospel in Italy. The Philippians here gave sacrificially to Paul, they loved him and desperately wanted to hear from him, but most of all they wanted to hear about how the Lord was using him.
It is imperative that you give most if not all of your money to organizations whose main goal is the progress of the Gospel. That’s why I recommend giving most of your money to your local church. As long as that church is biblically sound, then their desire will be to advance the Gospel. In faithful churches, elders have been chosen who qualify, and who can be trustworthy with the church’s money. Regardless, giving to churches or Gospel ministries and actually praying and being an active sender will allow you to be an active participant in the work of the Gospel.
2) It brings great profit
“I seek for the profit which increases to your account.” Phil 4:17
This is the heart of a true pastor. One that isn’t greedy or a lover of money. This is someone who desperately wants the people he loves to be eternally minded and to buy treasure in Heaven. Paul is content. He’s already said that in Philippians 4:11. With much or with little he has learned the secret of contentment. This lesson he learned has freed his conscience to be able to talk about such a taboo subject like money. He is able to shepherd his churches and tell them to give without having wrong motivations. Pastors ought to follow his example here. They are to call their people to give, not because of how that might benefit their ministry or bank account, but because of the fact that giving—to gospel ministries—increases their people’s eternal bank account.
Paul says that when you give sacrificially to the advancement of the Gospel you invest in Heaven. When you give up a little pleasure on earth, you gain huge pleasure in Heaven. Building on Jesus’ statement, he declares that nothing on earth can match even the smallest reward we will receive in eternity. A smart investor will always choose eternity over this life.
3) It pleases your Savior
“…a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God.” Phil 4:18
God is pleased when we invest in eternal things. Every time you buy treasure in Heaven, you are telling God that you value being with Him more than you value treasure on earth. You are declaring to Him and the world around you that you believe in Him, Heaven, and eternity, and God loves when His children express their faith.
We can identify with Paul when he says in Philippians 1:23 that to be with Christ in Heaven is far better. Actually, investing in the Gospel is a surefire sign that we agree with the statement Paul makes in the first chapter. In other words, when we invest in eternity we put our money where our mouth is. Paul tells us that not only does giving benefit us, but it pleases the Lord to see His children long to be with Him and not value this life so much.
When you give to the church you are saying that you want others to join you in worshiping God. You believe that every tongue on earth should worship God, that He is worthy of it, and that your resources and time should be devoted to encouraging those around you to stop worshiping themselves and to glorify the only One who deserves it. A wise child will give because he is conscious that the Lord is watching, that the Lord owns all that he has, and that he is pleased when His children give their money so that others may hear the Gospel and join them in worshiping their Lord.
4) It promises more of Christ
“And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Phil 4:19
James 1:9tells us that the brother of humble circumstances is to glory in his high position. A poor person who has Christ has more than all the riches in the world combined. Like the man who sold all he had to buy the field with the treasure, the Gospel provides humble human beings with riches beyond imagination. The gift is Christ Himself. The one who is willing to lose his life finds eternal life, and the eternal life is life with Christ Jesus.
The one who gives his time, his money and his life, knows that he has nothing except Christ. The one who is greedy and desperate to hold on to his treasures is one who is not satisfied with what Christ can offer. Paul says that when you give, God provides for the needs of his children by giving them more of Christ Himself. God’s greatest treasure is His Son, and the only thing that we need as His children is more of Christ. Jesus refers to Himself as the Bread of Life, that when we eat of Him or drink of Him, we will never be hungry or thirsty again. And, as we discipline ourselves in this life, and as we choose Him over anything this life can offer we receive, in return, more of Himself. As He becomes the affection of our heart, He satisfies our passions and sin becomes less appealing.
Many people have said that in order to truly feel like you are a part of a church, you must give to the church. You will never feel like a part of what God is doing in your church until you start putting some skin in the game. It may be scary to give, it may feel like you are somehow hurting your future, but if you are thinking eternally, then you will know that you are investing in something that has God’s eternal guarantee on it.