Cultivating Generosity: Sunday 17th November
In a world that seems to value getting over giving, how can we cultivate a generous life? In thanking the Philippians for their gift, Paul gives us some clues.
You can download sermon summary notes in English here, or you can read them below.
Before Paul signs off on this letter he wants to thank the Philippians for their gift. In doing so he tells us how we can cultivate a life of generosity.
Giving and Grace
Despite Paul saying that God gives him the strength to face all situations, he is still grateful for the Philippians sharing his trouble. There is a kind of fellowship that walks alongside in the bad as well as the good times. The strength of God to help us face what we face may come through those around us. Those around you need you.
We may think we have little to contribute, but the Bible sees it differently. We all get to take part in the Great Commission of spreading the gospel.
But whilst the Philippians were giving generously, not everyone else was. So why had the Philippians managed to learn this? In 2 Corinthians 8, Paul tells us: they understood that God had been generous to them in Jesus, and as a result they wanted to be generous. That tells us that our service and giving can come from a heart of joy and gratitude.
Where The Blessing Really Lies
Paul explains that he is not after their money, but that he wants to see the profit in their account multiplying. Though the Philippians are the ones giving their money away, they are the ones getting richer. How come?
Because there will be an eternal reward for the generous. But also, in this life, God pours more grace and joy and righteousness into the lives of those who are generous. But why is that? Why is there a positive feedback loop to generosity?
The Generous God
Paul describes their generous giving as a sacrifice pleasing to God. God loves a cheerful giver. Generosity brings him pleasure. There is something about making money and then using that to relieve suffering and spread the gospel that is pleasing to God. And that is because He is the greatest giver of all, the God of all generosity.
When he sees generosity in our lives he sees his own character reflected in his children. Our generosity reflects something of Jesus’ generosity, who gave himself as the supreme sacrifice pleasing to God. And when God sees that kind of generosity at work he loves to pour in extra grace.
Paul says that God will supply all of our needs. God is not a miser, but the supremely generous father. He will meet every financial need (not greed), but also all the deeper needs. He will give us all we need for contentment in plenty and want, for relational restoration, for joy in place of suffering, for unity, for the ability to count others more significant than yourself, and life as Christ and death as gain.
Ultimately, the answer to our needs is Jesus: he is the treasure that God gives. Paul responds to the thought of that with worship: to God be the glory! How do you respond?
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