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Lesson 22: The Beauty of a Generous Church, Phil. 4: 14-19

June 17, 2020

Read Phil. 4:14-19. The Philippian church was a generous church. They had "shared in Paul's distress" (Phil 4:14, 18). They had supported his missionary efforts in Thessalonica (Phil. 4:16). Their generous gifts to Paul was proof that they had the same love for God's people that was demonstrated by the very first church in Acts 2:44,45, "Now all who believed were together and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need." They were willing to provide for Paul in his time of need.

This same love for giving generously was noted by Paul and attributed to all of the churches of Macedonia; in which Philippi was located. Read 2 Cor. 8: 1-4. An offering had been taken up for the saints in Judea (the region of Jerusalem). This was likely in response to the famine that the prophet Agabus had prophesied about in Acts 11:28,29.

Now a second offering was being taken for the same purpose. Paul here points to the generosity of the Macedonian brethren. He notes they gave in spite of being "in a great trial of affliction". We know that previously Paul had indicated in Phil. 1:28, that the Philippians "had adversaries, who terrified them." A persecution against the church was in progress, yet they gave!

Paul notes that it was their joy of serving the needs of their brethren that motivated their generosity in v.4. He notes in v.3 that they gave "beyond their ability." So it's very evident this church was generous in spite of their poverty.

Now this shouldn't surprise us. The charter members of the church of Philippi were generous from the very start. Lydia and her household had allowed Paul, Silas, Timothy and Luke to stay in her house and it likely became the place where the believers met. (Acts 16:15) The jailer, who was baptized by Paul and Silas, showed his generosity on the night he was saved. He did this by tending to the wounds of Paul and Silas and then feeding them after midnight. (Acts 16:33,34) So there was a great beauty to be found in this generous church. You only find this type of grace in those who have truly been born again. You just don't find this in unregenerate people.

Paul goes on to tell us of three blessings that the Philippian church would enjoy because of their generosity in vv. 17-19 of our text. These blessings are available to every church that demonstrates this beautiful generosity.

In v.17 we find the first of these blessings is that the generous church has "fruit credited to their account." There is nothing hidden from God's sight. He knows our virtues, our weaknesses and our works. When a church engages in a good work they are bearing fruit for God, which He will remember.

This truth is easily found in the seven letters that the Lord Jesus wrote to the seven churches in Asia Minor that are found in Revelation chapters two and three. At the beginning of each letter the Lord makes the same statement to each church, "I know your works." He knows the works of every church. The Lord measures our faithfulness to Him through our works, to some degree. And the Philippians had some "fruit" credited to their account. The Grk. word used for fruit indicates "plucked" fruit. In other words a harvest had occurred; they had reaped a harvest in their generosity to Paul.

Likewise, they had a harvest when they supported Paul in Thessalonica. And another harvest when they gave aid to the Judean brethren in 2 Cor. 8: 1-4. The principle of sowing and reaping is revealed to us by Paul in 2 Cor. 9:6,7. You have to "sow bountifully" to "reap bountifully." But there is a second requirement; "you have to give as you purpose in your heart and cheerfully." The Philippians passed this test! They harvested fruit to their account. In 2 Cor. 9:10 Paul reveals an additional blessing to the generous church stating that God would, "multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness." They gave a little, but God multiplied their seed, so that it might go further and do more for the kingdom.

Secondly, in v.18 we see this gift was viewed by God as "an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God." Beloved a sacrifice is worship in God's eyes! It was one way that the Israelites worshiped God under the Old Covenant. The Hebrew writer knew this was true of good works and "sharing" with others. In Heb. 13:16, he reminds us "But do not forget to do good and to share; for with such sacrifices God is well pleased."

The whole life of the disciple is an opportunity to worship God! In Rom. 12:1, we are told, "I beseech you therefore, brethren by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy acceptable to God which is your reasonable service." Our generosity outside of our weekly gift to God is just another "acceptable sacrifice " to God.

In v.19 Paul tells them that because God has accepted their sacrifice, "He will supply all your needs." A generous gift is just as much a blessing to the giver as the receiver. In Acts 20:35, "I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive."

Paul may have had in mind the Lord's teaching in Lu. 6:38 when he said this. "Give and it will be given to you: a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you." This promise should not be viewed as a "give to get" scheme, but an age old principle that God indeed loves a generous and cheerful giver. Not all blessings are monetary.

It is natural that God should love a generous church. Because a generous church demonstrates through their generous gifts to the work of the kingdom and to the needy that they are "seeking first the kingdom of God." When you put God's kingdom first. When serving Him is your first priority, you have the promise of His daily provision for your life. Jesus taught us this in Mt. 6:31-33. A generous church or a generous disciple always seeks God's kingdom first!

Study Questions:

1. The Philippians had supported Paul not only in his chains in Rome, but in his ministry where?

2. True or False, The Macedonian churches gave less than what they were able?

3. Which of the first members of the Philippian church took in Paul, Silas, Timothy and Luke?

4. What two generous acts did the Philippian jailer do for Paul and Silas?

5. Because of the Philippians gift to Paul they had "fruit that abounded to their __________."

6. God viewed their gift to Paul as what type of worship act practiced in the Old Covenant?

7. Paul tells us that Jesus said, "It is more __________ to give than to ______________.

Type: Philippians Bible Study  Contact   ^top         < Prev   Current   Next >   of 218   Posted: 06/17/20     ID: 1592404059 # 1592404059