Giving is an Investment
It is now seven months into a yearlong project to write a series of twelve articles, one each month, on some aspect of giving. This month I was pulled up short, redirected really, as I was meditating on Philippians 4:17 (ESV) Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. I began to review why I took on this project. Am I waging a one-man campaign to raise the funds needed to meet this year’s budget? Am I trying to nag the attenders of Grace Fellowship into giving? Do I have some secret desire to have a bigger, prettier, and richer church? Is it so I can avoid having to participate in difficult spending discussions if there is an income shortfall? Or, can I say with Paul, I don’t seek the gift but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit? In fact, how can Paul make such a statement and mean it?
The context of Philippians 4:17 identifies several reasons Paul can make this statement and mean it. First, he says that he has learned how to be content in any and every circumstance whether he has little or much. He was not driven to seek funds by desperation or fear or covetousness. Second, Paul saw God as the one who gives strength to live no matter his circumstance. Thirdly, he saw the gift from the Philippians as an act of kindness meant to meet his need and as a fragrant sacrifice that pleased God. Paul understood their motivations to help him and to please God. Lastly, Paul knew by personal experience, that God meets needs and he assured the Philippians that God would supply their every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. In short, Paul saw that the motivations of both the giver and the receiver were honorable in God’s eyes. Therefore, Paul rejoices upon receiving their gift and can freely say, Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. Paul wanted the gift not for his relief, but rather that the fruit of the gift would be credited to their account.
For my part, the motivation to write these articles stemmed from a desire to teach some of what God says about giving, to see our brothers and sisters in Christ grow in their generosity towards God’s work here at Grace, and for each of us to see the blessings resulting from that generosity. Philippians 4:17 made me realize that my motives were good, but I was missing one, an important one. Grace Fellowship’s general fund is not just a way to collect money to pay bills, get a tax break, meet needs and practice generosity. It is also the means whereby each giver receives credit for the good fruit produced from the ministries supported by the general fund. For example, if a child places his/her faith in Christ because of our Children’s ministry, all of us who give to the general fund receive credit for that fruit even though we don’t all teach children. When Colby prepares, writes, prays over and then preaches a sermon that encourages hearts, or exhorts the hearers to action, or moves us to rejoice in the Lord, that is fruit credited to each general fund giver. When a picnic is held in the parking lot allowing for a strengthening of relationships among the body, all givers to the general fund receive credit for that fruit. In summary, God treats each gift to the general fund as an investment yielding a return. and not as a charge to be paid.
Philippians 4:17 confirmed for me that my support of the general fund is a good investment. As a good investment counselor, I’m pointing you to what I believe is a good investment. Therefore, view your gifts to the general fund as good investments, because your account will be credited with the good fruit produced from our ministries.