Tuesday, February 6, 2024

A Sweet-Smelling Sacrifice

At the moment I have all I need—and more! I am generously supplied with the gifts you sent me with Epaphroditus. They are a sweet-smelling sacrifice that is acceptable and pleasing to God. (Philippians 4:18 NLT)

We can talk all day about walking with God and relying on His strength, but if it doesn’t affect the way that we live and the way that we give, it means nothing.

There is perhaps no clearer evidence of spiritual maturity than financial generosity. Martin Luther, speaking of the Christian life, pointed out, “There are three conversions necessary: the conversion of the heart, the mind, and the purse [or wallet].”

Writing to the Christians in Philippi, the apostle Paul said, “As you know, you Philippians were the only ones who gave me financial help when I first brought you the Good News and then traveled on from Macedonia. No other church did this. Even when I was in Thessalonica you sent help more than once” (Philippians 4:15-16 NLT).

Our finances are often the last area that we’re willing to turn over to God. We want to retain complete control. In fact, we are uncomfortable when someone brings up the topic. It may be that our discomfort is an indication that this area is not in its proper order in our lives as Christians.

The Bible does address it quite frequently. Not only does Paul address it in this passage, but it’s worth noting that money is the main subject of nearly half the parables that Jesus told. In addition, one in every seven verses in the New Testament deal with this subject.

How does that compare with other topics? The Bible offers about 500 verses on prayer, less than 500 verses on faith, and 2,000 verses on money. God wants this area to be in balance in our lives.

Paul continued, “At the moment I have all I need—and more! I am generously supplied with the gifts you sent me with Epaphroditus. They are a sweet-smelling sacrifice that is acceptable and pleasing to God” (verse 18).

Epaphroditus had brought a special offering from the believers in Philippi. This deeply touched the apostle because it was a sacrificial gift. These believers gave sacrificially and cheerfully when others who were more able to give weren’t giving at all. That meant a lot to Paul because there were others who could have helped him but didn’t.

Paul was saying, “God bless you for this. It is a sweet-smelling aroma to God that you have given in such a way.”

Today most churches are supported financially by a relatively small percentage of people who give their tithes and offerings on a weekly basis.

Others, at best, give sporadically, while some don’t give at all. However, there is a core group that understands what the Bible teaches about giving, and they faithfully engage. And it’s because of their faithfulness that we have a ministry today.

God knows who they are. And through their faithfulness to Him, they make it possible for a lot of other people to be ministered to. They have discovered the joy of giving. And we might even venture to say that as a result, they have probably discovered the secret of contentment as well.

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