A Fragrant Gift
Pray: Humbly ask God to give you wisdom to understand this portion of the Bible and the faith to live out what He reveals to you.
Read: Philippians 4:10-20
At the end of Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he begins to thank them for their gift (aka…making it rain $$$) in helping him spread the gospel. It takes financial support to send missionaries and plant churches across the street and around the world. Paul sits shackled with his cell mates and yet has a grateful heart, as he is reminded of the Philippians generosity towards him and their passion for seeing the gospel spread to every tribe, tongue and nation.
So, Paul thanks them for their generosity, but then quickly makes it known that he did not need this gift. Why? Because Paul has learned a lesson we all need in our lives; contentment. In speaking on contentment, Paul is clear that he has been on both sides of the coin: he has been poor, and he has had plenty. In both circumstances, Paul has learned to be content, it didn’t happen overnight. He experiences a peaceful confidence because he trusts in God’s profound provision. It is God who strengthens him, not economic superiority. It is not that “having plenty” is a bad thing, for Paul has been there as well, but rather than finding his strength in “things,” Paul has all he needs in Christ. How about you dear reader? For someone writing in prison (context), this is quite the statement.
Paul gives the Philippians a shout out for their gift, not for the gift itself, but “the fruit that increases to your credit.” Paul knows that the giving of this gift for the spread of the gospel is pleasing to God, like a “fragrant offering.” Here, Paul echoes back to the Old Testament language in order to show that the gifts they sent for the gospel movement are pleasing to God. The “pleasing aroma” was used in the Old Testament with sacrifices to God (Gen. 8:21; Lev. 4:31).
Context is important when reading Scripture. Think about Paul writing from prison. Why would Paul choose to speak about contentment when rotting away in Roman chains?
1. Are you truly content (as Paul describes it)? Why or why not?
2. What are some ways Philippians 4:13 is used out of context?
3. Paul thinks of the Philippians as co-laborers for the gospel, what does this mean to you?
4. How are your finances affected by the gospel and call to radical generosity for the advance of the gospel? What is one way you can be more generous with the money God has given you?
Memorize: Phil 4:12-13