Philippians 4:15 reads, “You yourselves also know, Philippians, that at the beginning of the first preaching of the gospel, after I left Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving but you alone” (NASB). When Paul sat down to write to the saints at Philippi, it was primarily to thank them for their continued support of his ministry. He started the letter in chapter 1:3-5 with these precious words, “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now.” From the very beginning of Paul’s gospel outreach, these dear believers stood “shoulder to shoulder” with him, supporting him in every way they could. This no doubt included praying for Paul as he went from place to place with the good news of Jesus Christ, but their “fellowship in the gospel” especially refers to the financial assistance they gave to him whenever they had the opportunity to do so. No other church had been so faithful in this area and Paul thanked God for them every time he thought of them.

One can’t help but think of Paul’s first visit to Philippi as recorded in Acts 16:12-40. Verses 16-34 relate the story of Paul and Silas being imprisoned for preaching the gospel and how this led to the conversion of the Philippian jailor. This in turn led to the formation of the church at Philippi. The saints there never forgot Paul’s willingness to suffer for their sake in order to bring them the gospel of salvation through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. From that moment on their hearts were knit together with Paul’s and no matter where he traveled they went with him in spirit and when the opportunity arose they gave of their means to assist in him carrying the good news to the regions beyond.

We learn from 2 Corinthians 8:1-4 that they also gave money to others in need and it is most humbling to see that they were actually quite poor. Verse 2 tells us, “How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.” This simply means that “their joy in heavenly things was so real they could afford to let earthly things go.” Verse 5 lets us in on another secret of their willingness to give, for it says, “And this they did, not as we hoped, but first they gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.” The Lord’s greatest desire is that we give ourselves to Him, as we see in Proverbs 23:26 where He says, “My son, give me thine heart.” Once we are willing to give Him our heart, it will be much easier to give of our money, time, talents or anything else the Lord has given us to use for His honor and glory.

When Paul was bringing his letter to the Philippians to a close he acknowledges their gift and thanks them for it. He could say, in chapter 4:10, “But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again.” But it’s important to see that Paul also wrote in verse 17, “Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.” Paul WAS thankful for the gift, and it did meet a definite need, but more than anything Paul rejoiced that their gift would “abound to your account.” He knew that God was taking note of their gifts to His servant and that one day they would be rewarded accordingly. Paul ends on an even higher note in verse 18, “Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God.” Their gift had not only brought joy and satisfaction to the apostle, but it brought joy and glory to God! Every gift we give to others is actually a sacrifice to God and Hebrews 13:16 also assures us that “with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”  (180.4)  (DO)