Eshetu Abate: Troubles, Giving and Receiving

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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 more than once when I was in need. Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account. I have received full payment and have more than enough. 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 the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:14-19

“Having discussed the kindness of the Philippian Christians in general terms, Paul goes on to mention specific examples. He assures them that his motive for doing this is not to ask for more help but to praise them. By supporting the imprisoned apostle, the Philippians demonstrated that they shared in his troubles. By supporting evangelists, missionaries, or any workers in the vineyard of the Lord, we are sharing in their ministry, even though we may not be physically present. Good wishes are no enough. As individuals and as churches we should give tangible support to the work of the Lord. Repeated sacrificial giving of the type modeled by the Philippians should be the norm for an active and serving church. Such a gift will be a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to god. God will respond by blessing such an undertaking from His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”

Eshetu Abate in “Philippians” in Africa Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006) 1474.

As we continue to explore sharing through the Scriptures from an African perspective, we find the Philippians had shared three things with the apostle Paul: troubles, giving and receiving.

Firstly, they shared in his troubles. They sent Epaphroditus, the human care package to deliver aid to Paul in prison. He may have been out of sight but he was not out of their minds. This teaches us to move toward those experiencing hard times.

Secondly, they shared in giving at an “acceptable” level. We learn more about it in 2 Corinthians 8:12. It means they gave what they had. They sacrificed. Surprisingly, they did it even when no other church would. Let us giving sacrificially and surprisingly!

Thirdly, they shared in receiving from Paul. When Jesus first sent the disciples, He urged them to remain with the receptive. That was the Philippians. Like Paul, may we who are Christian workers bless those we serve and remain connected to them.