The word of the day is “gift.” St. Paul closes our reading of the Philippians with our reading of Chapter 4:10-23. This passage is a thank-you note for the generosity of Paul’s favorite congregation.
To conclude his letter, Paul expresses his exuberant gratitude for the gift of monetary support that the Philippians have sent. Somehow something must have held up that donation’s arrival. But Paul graciously overlooks the delay. The Philippians “lacked the opportunity,” he writes (vs. 10). But now Paul is pleased that their concern for him has blossomed like spring flowers.
Accomplishing Everything Through Christ
Yet Paul wants his favorite congregation to know that the important thing is not his need. He knows how to be content, whether in abundance or deprivation (vs. 12). Besides that, the Apostle testifies that he can accomplish everything through the strength of Christ. Consequently, Paul writes that he is only glad that the congregation’s support has lightened the load of his burdens (Strong’s #2347, 116).
But does Paul want anything? He writes, “Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account” (vs. 17). Paul does not want to give the Philippians the impression that he is asking for another donation. He writes that he only seeks the “fruit” that would “abound to their account” (vs. 17).
Offerings Are Sweet-Smelling Sacrifices
To explain, Paul compares the gifts of support for his ministry with offerings to God. As the smoke of the sacrifice on an altar rises as a “sweet-smelling fragrance to God,” so “the things they sent” are an “acceptable sacrifice,” a “well-pleasing aroma” to the Lord (vs. 18). That is, they are sacrifices that are please God (Strong’s #1184, 63). Thus, Paul wants his beloved flock to know he has one desire. He wants the Lord to credit them with the “fruit” of their generosity (vs. 17).
As Abel’s sacrifice pleased God (Genesis 4:40 ), He is pleased with offerings given in genuine thanksgiving and sincere worship. Surely the Almighty does not need our gifts. But we need to give. Our contributions are a means to express our thanksgiving, dedication, and praise to God. But just as it was for the Philippians, when we give offerings of time, talent, and treasure to the Lord, He uses them to supply the needs of both the church and the poor. We need not worry about having enough for ourselves and this work of love. The God of mercy provides us with more than we need so that we might have the blessing of showing our devotion to Him and our care for others (vs. 19).