My God Will Supply Every Need of Yours | Philippians 4:14-23

Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. 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. Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. 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. And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me greet you. All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

Philippians 4:14-23 ESV

 

Now Paul turns his heart once again to the gift of the Philippians, saying that it was kind of them to share in his troubles. Even though Paul wants to be clear that it was Christ that enabled him to face his various tribulations, he wants the Philippians to understand that their gift was a joy upon joy. He further describes the previous help that these brothers and sisters had been to him while he was in Macedonia and Thessalonica. Christ alone is sufficient for every concern, but he was incredibly thankful to have such a generous and loving family around the world.

PARTNERING IN THE GOSPEL // VERSES 14-20

Having taken a detour in thought to describe his contentment in the Lord in verses 11-13, Paul now returns to commenting on the concern the Philippians showed him through their gift. Sent by the hands of Epaphroditus, we do not know what their gifts to the apostle were, although we can assume that they included a letter of encouragement to him. Whatever the gifts were (whether financial, literary, or something else), Paul makes it clear that the Philippians were partnering with Paul in his ministry. And since Paul’s primary ministry was to preach the gospel to those who had yet to hear of Jesus, we can look to these verses for a theological snapshot of why churches supporting missionaries is so crucial to the advancement of the gospel.

Verse 14 gives us our first principle: partnering in missions means sharing trouble. The sufferings of Paul are no secret. Few people can even fathom persevering through the trials that he faced. He lists a few of these tribulations in 2 Corinthians 11:24–28:

Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.

Most of us would cease after facing even a fraction of what Paul experienced, yet he continued onward. This letter has revealed much of the apostle’s theological grounds for joy in the midst of such suffering; however, Paul also took joy in knowing that churches like the Philippians were ready to share with him in his trials. The word for share here derives from the same root word that Paul uses for partnership in verse 15 and in 1:5. He is describing the fellowship, community, or communion that followers of Christ share. Such partnership and community are marks of true Christians. It is fitting, therefore, that we would also share each other’s sufferings.

But how can long distance partnerships, like Paul and Philippians, really mean sharing in the missionary’s troubles? First, we must remember that sending Epaphroditus with their gifts was a sacrifice in and of itself. The journey from Philippi to Rome was around 800 miles, which was an especially significant voyage in the ancient world. Indeed, as we should recall, Epaphroditus nearly died taking their gifts to Paul (2:27). So the risk of sending someone to Paul was great; however, there was also danger in openly showing their support of Paul and his ministry. Remember that Paul was imprisoned because his proclamation of the gospel was thought to stir up public outrage. The Romans considered Paul an enemy of the state, a danger to the fragile peace of the ethnically-diverse patchwork that was the Roman Empire. And for a city as Romanized as Philippi, knowledge of such support could have intensified their already present persecution.

Finally, we must also remember that there is much spiritual comfort in knowing that brothers and sisters are praying for you. Even if the Philippians could not be sitting with Paul in prison, there was comfort in knowing that they were concerned and praying for him. Simply knowing that fellow Christians around the world were petitioning the Father for him and eagerly awaiting news from him must have strengthened his resolve to persevere.

Although I don’t pretend to know anything close to Paul’s trials or even those of career missionaries, I do recall the encouragement of support while spending two months in Venezuela. As humans, it is impossible not to have days of discouragement, yet the knowledge that I was serving on behalf of others that could not go often gave me strength to keep pressing forward. May we never forget how much it means to those who are on the frontlines of missions that we care about them and are praying for them. Doing so is a form of sharing in their troubles.

In verses 15-16, Paul recalls how the Philippians repeatedly helped to meet Paul’s needs throughout his journey in Macedonia and even to Thessalonica (which was nearly one hundred miles from Philippi). Notice how carefully Paul words things here. He does not say that the Philippians met all of his needs while he was traveling in their area; instead, he says that they helped to meet his needs. The apostle is careful not to place too great of a burden upon the Philippians since they certainly did not have the ability to meet his needs entirely, not while he was still in Macedonia and especially not while he was in Rome. God alone could meet Paul’s needs, yet the Philippians were used by the Lord to meet some of his needs.

Likewise, we must understand that in our support of missionaries today we are called to meet their needs, yet we cannot meet all their needs. Only the Father can give them the support that they need, yet it is our privilege to be one instrument through which he provides that very support for them. This keeps us from two common errors: pride and discouragement. We are kept from pride because we know that regardless of how great our support is it will never be entirely sufficient. But we are also kept from discouragement because we know that God is ultimately the one who is doing the work and meeting the needs. We, therefore, have the ability to do our part with joy, knowing that God is true supplier.

In verse 17, Paul reiterates his selfless mentality by stating that he seeks the fruitful increase of the Philippians’ account rather than their gift itself. Paul’s language here is undeniably financial. The ESV footnotes suggests another possible translation as being: I seek the profit that accrues to your account. Unmistakably, Paul views the Philippians’ giving as a financial investment, one that is accruing fruitful interest on their behalf. But how are we to understand this concept of heavenly investment?

Paul’s language is similar to Jesus’ words from the Sermon on the Mount:

Matthew 6:19-20 | Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.

Like Paul, Jesus is describing a kind of heavenly investment, storing our treasures in heaven rather than on earth. The wisdom is found in the security of our investment. On earth, savings can be lost. In a moment, people with great wealth have been reduced to poverty (as we learned in Ecclesiastes 5:13-17). Earthly funds are never entirely safe, but what can rob us of our heavenly treasure? Investing in the kingdom of God will never prove unsecure or unprofitable. It is, therefore, foolish not to store our treasures in heaven. By their support of Paul, the Philippians were doing just that. Their partnership in Paul’s ministry was an investment in God’s kingdom, in the advancement of the gospel. One day, when the gospel has spread through all the earth and Jesus has returned as King, the Philippians’ investment will be proven fruitful indeed. We likewise make such an investment whenever we support the spreading of the good news. Generous giving toward gospel efforts is an eternal investment for us.

In verse 18, Paul now returns to the significance of their gift. First, he assures them of his satisfaction with their gift. The word Paul uses for more at the beginning of the verse is actually the same word Paul used in verse 12 for abound; thus, tying this thought with that one. Indeed, we would expect prison of all places to have put Paul in a position of need, yet he writes to the Philippians that their gift has well supplied him, giving him plenty. In other words, he understands the tremendous grace God has given him through the generosity of the Philippian church.

But once again, his emphasis turns from himself back onto the Philippians as he calls their gift a fragrant offering to God. Having used financial language, Paul now uses the language of Old Testament sacrifices to describe their partnership with him. Like a sacrifice made on the altar of the Temple, so is the giving of the Philippians to meet the needs of Paul. It is an offering back to God from what he has generously provided for us. In the Old Testament, offerings were made to God in thanksgiving and recognition that He gives all that we have. Sacrificing an animal, therefore, was certainly a financial sacrifice, but it served as a physical reminder that all things ultimately belong to God. In this way, a sacrifice is a form of recognizing God as God. Thus, Paul informs the Philippians that the same event is occurring with their gift. Their giving was a sacrifice, money that could have been used to meet other needs, yet they still gave, knowing that God Himself is the Giver of all things. Their gift to Paul was ultimately not about Paul but about God. They sacrificed to the God of all things and to the work that He is doing here on earth.

In verse 19, Paul’s attention shifts yet again back to the benefit of the Philippians in their giving. This mighty verse is essentially the apostle’s expression of confidence that God will be faithful to pay his tab. Especially in the culture of the Roman Empire, reciprocal giving among friends was commonplace. Giving to a friend was done with the understanding that they were essentially indebted to you and would need to one day return the favor. Paul takes this customary mentality and flips it on its head, assuring the Philippians that God Himself would take care of Paul’s end.

It is worth making a side note that God has always been in the business of rearranging cultural norms and practices. Because we are made in God’s image, every culture will somewhat reflect God’s character; nevertheless, each reflection is broken by sin. Whenever the gospel penetrates a society, its culture must bow to the gospel, not the other way around. As with the reciprocal giving of friendship in the ancient world, God will often use the language of our culture to reach us, but He recircuits our customs, beliefs, and values for His glory. While giving with the understanding that the other person is indebted to you could lead to non-generous, selfish giving, Paul shifts their expectations by pointing them to God as the one who would give to them in return.

Now this verse can very easily be taken as support for property theology. After all, it does sound like Paul is saying that because the Philippians supported him, God will completely provide for the Philippians. They give, and God blesses. That’s how it works, right? Not exactly. We can never forget that this verse is in the context of the Philippians’ partnership with Paul in advancing the gospel. Paul is not saying that for every dollar that the Philippians gave to his ministry God would give them ten more. Instead, he is saying that as they continue to partner in the spreading of the gospel God would continue to give them the ability to do so. In other words, as they did the work of expanding God’s kingdom, God would be faithful to supply their every need.

Seeing verse 19 as following verses 14-18 is crucial to our mentality of giving. Too often, we either give less than we should or not at all because we are waiting for God to give us a greater ability to give. However, God expects us to give sacrificially, while trusting Him to provide. Indeed, as we support the work of His kingdom, God will be faithful to support us. John G. Paton wrote these words about his home church in Scotland’s support of his missionary work:

Nor did the dear old Church thus cripple herself; on the contrary, her zeal for Missions accompanied, if not caused, unwonted prosperity at home. New waves of liberality passed over the heart of her people. Debts that had burdened many of the Churches and Manses were swept away. Additional Congregations were organized. And in May, 1876, the Reformed Presbyterian Church entered into an honorable and independent Union with her larger, wealthier, and more progressive sister, the Free Church of Scotland. (21 Servants, 541)

This isn’t to say that we should give in order to be blessed by God; however, it is a promise that God will provide for His work. God desires for disciples to be made of all nations, and He will be faithful to fund that mission. We should not be surprised, then, that many of the healthiest churches are also the most mission-minded churches.

Unsurprisingly, all this talk about partnerships, giving, and being supplied causes Paul to erupt into a doxology of praise. Just as our supply from God only comes through His riches in Christ Jesus, so the apostle emphasizes again that God alone receives the glory for all things. Yes, we are called to do our part in accomplishing the Great Commission, but we are not entitled to any praise for our work because it is the Father who enables us to do it in the first place. In the spreading of the gospel, as in the gospel itself, the glory is to God alone.

FINAL GREETINGS // VERSES 21-23

Paul concludes his letter by exchanging greetings. He wishes for greetings to be sent from him and “all the saints” to each believer that is with them. While this is a common element for Christians to express toward one another, the real surprise is Paul’s inclusion of the saints in Caesar’s household. Our minds should recall Paul’s assurance in 1:13 that through his imprisonment even the Praetorian Guard had heard the gospel. Now, as if to comfort the Philippians even more, Paul subtly lets them know that even members of the Roman Emperor’s household believe in Christ. This is a powerful foretelling of the far-reaching pervasiveness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Although Paul would be beheaded by the order of the Emperor only a few years after writing this letter, Christianity would be the official religion of the Empire in about three centuries. Regardless of the present circumstances, both history and the Scriptures remind us that the Jesus’ kingdom always triumphs and will permanently triumph in the end.

In a letter as Christocentric as Philippians, it is only fitting for it to end by turning toward Jesus once again. Paul’s final prayer is for the grace of Jesus to be with them. This was the greatest prayer that Paul could give them because only by the unmerited grace of Christ, could they take hold of the joy presented in this letter. And two thousand years later, the same is still true for us.

By grace alone, we have hope of being completed at the day of Jesus Christ.

By grace alone, our love will continue to abound more and more.

By grace alone, our life is Christ.

By grace alone, our death is gain.

By grace alone, we behave as citizens worthy of the gospel.

By grace alone, we are unified in our minds and hearts toward each other.

By grace alone, we clothe ourselves with the humility of Christ, treating others as better than ourselves.

By grace alone, we work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.

By grace alone, we know Christ and the power of His resurrection.

By grace alone, we are citizens of heaven, awaiting the Savior who will transform our lowly bodies to be like His glorious body.

By grace alone, we are content in every situation, being strengthened by Jesus Himself.

By grace alone, we partner in the advancing of the gospel into all nations.

By grace alone, we rejoice in the Lord always, no matter the circumstance or tribulation.

By grace alone, we count everything as vanity for the sake of Christ.

May we fall constantly and continuously upon the grace of Christ.

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How to Tithe Your Time

For many Christians, giving tithes and offerings are a normal part of life.

Even though I do not think that Christians are necessarily bound by a tithe (or 10%) today, I fervently uphold the principle of giving a portion of our finances back to God since they all came from Him in the first place.

With that said, my wife and I have recently been exploring the surprising truth of the phrase, “Time is money.”

After going through Dave Ramsey’s courses, we’ve begun to budget our finances, taking control of our money. And we decided to do the same thing with our time as well. After all, God essentially gave us a weekly allowance of 168 hours to spent in much the same way we spend our paychecks.

Since I wrote about creating a time budget last week, I will now explore another aspect of our usage of time: tithing.

Tithing time?

Why (and how) would we ever do that?

My reasoning goes something like this:

If we believe in giving tithes to God because every cent of our finances came from Him and if we believe that every minute and hour is a gift as well, should we not also give to God a portion of our time as we do with our income?

As I said earlier, I do not believe that Christians are obligated to give 10 percent of our income. The New Testament is clear that we should delight in giving, but it makes no claim on how much we should give. In fact, Paul even instructs the church members of Corinth to give “as he has decided in his heart” (2 Cor. 9:7).

Christians are to be cheerful givers, not obligated givers.

Giving ten percent of our income is a great starting point, but our focus should ALWAYS be first upon the condition of our heart.

A Tale of 2 Christians

The same should also apply with our time.

If God has given us 168 hours each week, a tithe of our time would be about 17 hours.

Obviously giving ten percent would fly in the face of nominal Christianity that only requires attendance of church on Sunday morning… if that.

Sadly, many professing Christians do not spend time each day reading the Scriptures or praying.

They refrain from attending most prayer services, events, or activities outside of Sunday morning, and their attendance on Sunday morning might also be sporadic.

In essence, they give God an hour or two each week.

But let’s take a minute to imagine a different scenario.

My church has three regular services: Sunday morning, prayer, and small groups.

Sunday morning tends to last a little less than 2 hours.

The prayer service typically goes for 1 hour.

And small groups normally take 2 hours.

That’s 5 hours a week.

Add a daily hour of private prayer and Scripture reading, and you would be spending 12 hours specifically dedicated to God and His people.

That still leaves 5 more hours of our time tithe for discussions over coffee with other believers, ministry meetings, community service, or even good ol’ evangelism!

But Isn’t Everything I Do Worship?

Of course, a possible argument could be that a Christian should not need to allocate time given to God since we are called to do everything in worship.

Yes, we should worship and glorify God with every action we take: “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Col. 3:17)

Even though time spent loving our spouse or family is God-glorifying, there is still a need to set aside some of it for God.

Worshiping God by working hard at your job is wonderful, but time should still be made for hearing from God in His Word, coming to Him in prayer, and being with His people.

We are called to worship and wisely use both our time and our finances, and that means setting apart some of our time and finances specifically for God.

But I Don’t Have Time!

Another objection might be the lack of time.

While it is true that some people are exceedingly busy, the truth is that we are rarely as loaded down as we would like to believe.

We can easily fall into the trap of believing that our worth and value are directly attached to the weight of our work-load.

The busier we are, the more important we feel.

I fall into this snare often.

And it’s sinful.

Instead of living in light of God’s sovereignty, I attempt to carry the world on my shoulders, which is a prideful lack of faith.

Of course, after honestly assessing my time, I usually also find that I have much more “me-time” than I thought.

For example, consider this article from 2014 that claims Americans within my age group watch 27 1/2 hours of TV on average each week.

I won’t even venture a guess as to how much time is spent on social media.

So what do you do if you don’t have a tenth of your time to give to God in personal devotions and church services?

Here’s a suggestion: Monitor how much of your time this week you spend watching TV, scrolling through social media, playing video games, etc.

Very few of us will come away from such an experiment happy with how wisely we use the precious time God has given us.

Conclusion

To be clear, I have no intention of placing a legalistic burden upon anyone.

I simply believe that giving God a tithe or a significant portion of time (as with our finances) is a healthy practice.


So, do you agree with me?

Should we dedicate a tenth(ish) of our time specifically to God?

How much of your time each week do you spend at church services, communing with God, or intentionally growing alongside other believers?

7 Principles of Biblical Giving

Giving to the poor is a staple of Christianity and most other religions.

Typically, we consider giving alms to be an inherently righteous and holy act, so when Jesus warned that there was a wrong way to give to the needy, most people likely hadn’t even considered that was possible.

How can giving ever be anything other than godly?

To help answer how to give in a godly and biblical manner, here are 7 principles found in Scripture to guide our giving.¹

1. Give secretly.

Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 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. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:2-4)

In these verses, Jesus effectively states that the godly nature of our giving is voided whenever we give merely to be seen by others.

Jesus calls His followers to live in righteousness at the heart-level.

Whenever we give in order to be known as generous, we reveal pride to be our motivator, not true godliness.

The two hyperboles Christ presents are simply fantastic.

First, He warns not to sound a trumpet before you while giving your money. A lot of commentators present suggestions for what Jesus means, but I think Jesus was warning us not to hire a trumpet player/town crier to play a fanfare and announce, “Hear ye! Hear ye! Harken to the marvelous donation being made!”

It’s an over-the-top picture, yes. But Jesus uses it to illustrate the ridiculousness of giving in order to be noticed by others.

The second hyperbole He uses is not letting our left hand know what the right hand is doing. I think Jesus what means by this that we should be so prone to give secretly that a piece of ourselves might not even realize what we did. It’s as if our right hand gives the money, and the left hand says, “Wait a second, what happened?”

Once again, it’s over-the-top, but this call to secret giving should create in us a desire to give and forget about the gift.

The godly giver does not keep a mental record of his or her generosity; instead, they freely give because God freely gave.

2. Give cheerfully.

Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:7)

I love this verse.

Jesus assumes in Matthew 6 that His followers would give to the needy, and Paul makes the same assumption throughout his letters.

Christians ought to desire to give, and Paul emphasizes that desire by saying that God loves a cheerful giver.

We should never give reluctantly or under compulsion, only cheerfully.

Why?

We know that God does not need us or our money.

As the creator of… well, everything… there is nothing that is not already His.

Each penny we “own” comes to us solely by God’s grace.

Everything we have is a gift from God, and if we are not cheerful when we give to others, it is a sign that we do not understand God’s gift of grace.

Christians are called to know only cheerful giving.

3. Give as the Lord Leads you.

Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:7)

This verse is so good that I’m giving it a second round.²

If you ever feel like God is a cash-grabber, read this verse again.

There is not a one-size-fits-all dollar amount for Christian giving; instead, we are each meant to be led by the Holy Spirit to give as the Lord leads us.

Remember, giving should be a cheerful act for Christ’s followers. Sorrowfully giving what you think is the bare minimum or giving exuberantly to impress others are both sure to destroy the joy of giving.

4. Give sacrificially.

And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.” (Mark 12:41-44)

The poor widows offering is one of the most popular stories from Jesus’ earthly ministry. But what is the lesson to be learned from it?

The widow’s incredibly small offering was considered by Jesus to be greater than the large sums from others because she gave her offering sacrificially. Those two coins were all she had, yet she freely gave them to the Father.

This is contrasted with the wealthy givers who gave from their abundance, meaning their generous gifts had little-to-no impact upon them.

Yes, their gifts were large, but there was no sacrifice in giving them.

What faith is there in giving which costs nothing?

The widow’s faith was made evident by her refusal to cling even to her final two coins.

Let the widow’s sacrificial giving also keep us from ever using the excuse: “I would love to give more, if only I had more.”

We might have dreams of great acts of giving (dropping $100 tips everywhere, funding church plants, etc.), but in reality our hearts tend to place our wants and desires first.

Give sacrificially from what God has given you, and if the Lord wills, He will give you even more to give.

5. Giving is itself a blessing.

In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ (Acts 20:35)

I often come to this verse to ask whether I  actually believe it to be true: Do I really believe that giving is a bigger blessing than receiving?

To be honest, I really like getting thing (books, in particular), but as followers of Christ, we must see the act of giving as a greater blessing than receiving.

Paul repeated this line of thought when he discussed a monetary gift that the Philippians sent him. After writing about having contentment in Christ regardless of his circumstances, the imprisoned Paul told the church of Philippi, “Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit.” (Phil. 4:17)

The imprisoned apostle did not need their gift because God was sufficient for him, and that contentment allowed him to share in joy of the Philippians who were blessed by giving to Paul.

6. Giving is an investment in eternity.

Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Luke 12:19-21)

The act of giving is a blessing, but there still are more blessings for the giver.

In Matthew 6, Jesus indicated that secret giving will be rewarded by our heavenly Father who sees in secret.

Many prosperity teachers claim that God rewards us by miraculously multiplying and returning our money to us. Though God is certainly free and able to prosper us, this give-and-get teaching is entirely unbiblical.

Such teachings view material wealth as the ultimate reward, but the Scriptures teach that godly giving is an investment in eternal treasures.

“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

It can be so easy to safely store our hearts within our wallet or bank account, desperate for the security and provision that money seems to provide.

It’s an alluring treasure.

But God beckons us toward more.

When we give away our earthly treasures, we go against the impulse to simply accumulate money. Giving drives a knife into the heart of greed, and it reminds us not to place our hope in currency.

Giving helps us to fix our eyes upon our blessed hope, displaying that God alone is our great treasure and He alone possesses our heart.

7. Giving mirrors God’s heart.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

This is the most significant reason for Christian giving.

God gave His only Son for us.

And we are called to be imitators of God (Eph. 5:1).

I’ll let the apostle Paul describe the wonder of this thought:

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,
who, though he was in the form of God,
did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,
but emptied himself,
by taking the form of a servant,
being born in the likeness of men.
And being found in human form,
he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross.
Therefore God has highly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,
so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

(Philippians 2:5-11)

God Himself humbled Himself to point of the death, even death on a cross, for us.

Every grace that we have is predicated upon Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Jesus’ words to His disciples apply to us still: “You received without paying; give without pay.”

Because followers of Christ have experienced the immense grace of God, how can we not also become givers of grace?


1) These principles are far from exhaustive on the subject of giving, but I pray they are helpful nonetheless.

2) Seriously, memorize 2 Corinthians 9:7 and pray through it each time you give as away to check your heart’s motivation. You won’t regret it.

Giving | Matthew 6:1-4

SUGGESTED VERSES FOR MEMORIZATION & MEDITATION

Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 6:1)

Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 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. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:2-4)

OPENING THOUGHT

The Gospel of Matthew is about Jesus bringing the kingdom of heaven to earth, and the Sermon on the Mount serves as the citizen’s handbook. Chapter five covered the characteristics and purpose of Christ’s followers, as well as their relationship to the Old Testament Law. The Beatitudes represent the characteristics of a citizen of the kingdom of heaven, and their purpose is to be the salt of the earth and light of the world. The chapter then concluded with six examples of how Christ came to fulfill the Law, not abolish it.

As we move into the sixth chapter of Matthew, we also enter a new section of Jesus’ sermon. Through chapter five’s discussion of the Law, Jesus flipped many of the Old Testament commandments on their head by revealing God’s heart behind it. Jesus now does something very similar with acts of religious piety. For many of the religious leaders of Jesus’ day, giving to the poor, prayer, and fasting were the three holiest acts one could perform, but Jesus shockingly reveals that even these godly acts can be done in an ungodly manner.

This week we focus on Jesus’ brief discussion of giving to the poor. It is important to note that Jesus begins with the phrase, “when you give…”. Thus, Jesus begins with the assumption that His followers will desire to give to the needy. We would tend to assume that giving to the poor is always a righteous act, but Jesus warns against giving in order to be seen by others. He claims that if we do good works for others to notice, their attention is our reward. However, if we give in secret, our Father will see us and reward us.

Read verse 1 and discuss the following.

  1. Jesus begins chapter six with a warning against practicing our righteousness before other people. Why does Jesus condemn doing good works to be seen by others?

Read verse 2 and discuss the following.

  1. Most of us are not likely to use to trumpets to announce whenever we give to the needy, so what does Jesus mean by “sound no trumpet before you”?
  2. What are some practical or real life examples of how we might (blatantly or subtly) search for other people’s acknowledgement of our generosity?

Read verses 3-4 and discuss the following.

  1. What does Jesus mean by not letting our left hand know what our right hand is doing?
  2. Biblically, how will the Father reward these secret givers?

ACTIONS TO CONSIDER

  • Obey. Consider your current practice of giving to the needy. Do you give at all? If you do, where is your heart when you give? How can you guard your heart from seeking the affirmation of others in your giving?
  • Pray. Pray to the Lord for a greater desire to be generous and to guard your heart against giving to be seen by others.