“Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account” (Philippians 4:17).
The Apostle Paul had a side business, tent making. However, over time, it was evident that more and more of his time was being given to vocational ministry activities. That required him to receive income from those to whom he invested his life. It became increasingly difficult to run a business and travel and minister. Many bi-vocational pastors find themselves in Paul’s shoes when it comes to tent making. Their heart aches to be more involved in ministry, yet “tent making” takes up much of their time.
His letter to the Philippians gives us perspective on giving. Although Paul appreciated the support financially, his real joy came in the fact that their gift was being credited to their Heavenly account. The Scriptures tell us “It’s more blessed to give than to receive.” I have been on both ends of that verse. Rest assured, I would much rather be giving to others than receiving. It takes unique grace to receive. Our pride really takes a beating when we feel we are “not able to provide for our own.” Yet God is full of mercy for giving and receiving.
Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid again and again when I was in need. Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account. I have received full payment and even more; I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:14-19).
Paul had a confidence that God would always provide what he needed. Sometimes it came from his business. Sometimes it came through others. He was not overly concerned with where his provision would come from. His confidence was in God, his provider. Paul trusted the Lord with every aspect of his life, including his finances. Paul learned that it wasn’t a church or a business that was his provider. It was the Lord. Business and people were merely tools God used to support him.
Are you in the state of need? Cry out to God, the One who said He is Jehovah Jirah, “The God who provides”. Are you blessed to the degree you are able to give to those in need? Thank the Lord and remember you can’t out give God. I believe we can echo the words of Paul when he said, “No matter what state I am in, I have learned to be content.”