Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account.
-Paul from Philippians 4:17
The Roman and Greek world of Paul, consisted not only a terrible hardness of heart, but often a greater heartlessness of cruelty. Absent was provision for the poor. Most people were solely on their own, and if an incapacity occurred, one might very well starve and die. Consider the amphitheater packed with crowds gathered to see, with a sickening delight, another human’s blood flow in agony and death. Human suffering in these cultures was a thing to rejoice and revel in rather than to be prevented. Rarely was found a person who would give a coin or something of value to the poor. Historians bluntly record– “Charity was dead. The voluptuaries of that most degenerate age planned no hospitals, built no orphanages; they were too intent on their gladiators and mistresses. Self was paramount in Caesar’s court, and all over Roman realms.”
Yet in obscure Philippi, are a people thinking about the one who had preached to them and who himself is now suffering. They are moved by a radical new principle– love. Paul rejoices in them because he is seeing from the front row, another transforming aspect of the power of God’s grace resulting from the embrace of the gospel. Those who were once selfish now rejoiced, and without prompting are giving… unheard of!
I am thankful for you dear flock who, by the grace of God and the power of His word, have been, and are being transformed. You are a living epistle to view His goodness and love. I am thankful to witness the generosity that flows quietly out of this church family to be a part of blessing those who have found themselves in prison, to share the gospel not only locally but on the other side of the globe, there to provide a church building to believers who were in need of a place to get out of the weather and to provide a home for a pastor and his family, to contribute to those in our own town who are down-and-out, to assist with other believers and churches to see the church established and built up through sent missionaries… short and long term, to tend those from the flock who been in need of economic help. And then certainly to Matt and myself.
Annually, at this time, we are legally obligated to distribute the “giving-letters-reports.” Details of income I am purposefully unaware, but I do get to witness where resources flow. What a joy to see, like Paul, “the fruit that abounds to your account.” I am thankful for the conduit this church is privileged to be. I have no doubt also there is much giving done in absolute quietness. You have done as Spurgeon exhorts “felt for others—in your pocket.”
Two thoughts from senior pillars in the church today on this subject—
Billy Graham—“God has given us two hands—one for receiving and the other for giving.”
Chuck Swindoll—“ We are never more like God than when we give.”
God has given so much to us… we are very and undeservedly blessed by Him, Maranatha!