Here is the final installment of recaps from our Women’s Bible study on Philippians. Thanks for coming along on this journey!
In this passage, Paul stated that the Philippian church was the only church to consistently support him in his ministry. The congregation in Philippi was also the poorest group of believers, yet the most generous. These friends also stuck with Paul over the long-haul and Paul was so grateful for the commitment of these people. Paul mentioned that he received aid from Philippi while he was in Thessalonica.
What was going on in Thessalonica? There are some clues in Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians.
- “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.” (1 Thess. 4:11-12)
- “And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle…” (1 Thess. 5:14)
- “We hear that some among you are idle.” (2 Thess. 3:11)
- “For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: ‘If a man will not work, he shall not eat.'” (2 Thess. 3:10)
It seems the Thessalonian church had an issue with laziness. They couldn’t support themselves, much less Paul. So the Philippian church kicked in to help Paul financially. In fact, it was the church in Philippi that enabled Paul to give up his trade and preach full time. Bless them. (See Acts 18:1-5) If Paul had been forced to keep making tents, it would have been such a waste of his giftedness.
Why is the giving of offerings so important in our walk with the Lord?
God looks at our offerings as a sweet fragrance, much like the Old Testament priests who went into the holy place to put incense on the altar. Our offerings are not donations — they are “acceptable sacrifices, pleasing to God” and they reflect the state of our hearts. That’s why it’s important to give to God right off the top instead of giving Him the leftovers. The only time in scripture God says, “Test me,” is in regard to giving. (See Malachi 3:6-12)
Paul had confidence that God would respond to the Philippians and provide for them as a result of their generosity. That is God’s way. Even Jesus stated, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:38) We can never outgive God.
“When God’s word is done in God’s way for God’s glory, it will not lack for God’s supply.” (Hudson Taylor)
Paul ended his letter with greetings to all the saints, especially those in Caesar’s household. Nero was the reigning emporer, or Caesar, at the time. He was a cruel, brutal leader who tortured Christians in bizzare and grotesque ways. Yet in Nero’s very household there were believers and Paul sent his greetings and encouragement to them.
Paul began his letter with a greeting of grace (Phil. 1:2) and ended his message with grace (Phil. 4:23). Paul gave us a glimpse of his heart in the letter to the Philippians. Although he was a great thinker and theologian, Paul loved people and rejoiced over and over in his relationships within the body of believers. He showed us what a mature believer looks like and how to shine like stars in the midst of a perverted and crooked generation.
Thanks be to God!