Sermon

Paradox of Giving (Philippians 4:14-23)

There is a very important principle in Scripture: The more you give, the more you get; the more you surrender, the more you gain. If this sounds strange to you, it’s because it is. The world tells us to horde, Jesus tells us to give away. The world tells us to be served, Jesus tells us to serve. The world tells us “eye for an eye”, Jesus tells us to turn the other cheek. When you listen to the world you find misery, but when you listen to Jesus you have joy. In Philippians 4:14-23, the Apostle Paul expressed his gratitude to the Philippians for their generosity and reminded them of God’s generosity towards them. In our sermon today we will discuss the paradox of giving.

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Giving Increases the Fruitfulness of the Giver

Giving isn’t about losing something, it is about gaining something. Paul wrote in verse 17, “Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account.” Paul wrote this while in prison and he wanted the Philippian church to know that his contentment came from Christ and he has all he needs. He was thankful for their help and the benefits of their gift, but what he enjoyed more was their opportunity to faithfully give so that God would increase their fruitfulness. What does Paul mean by fruitfulness? His statement must be understood in the context of Jesus’ words in Mark 4:20, “But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” Paul rejoiced in their gift because, like fruit on a healthy tree, it is the natural result of their faith. 

There was a time when I declined a gift from a fellow Christian. I will never forget the reply of this kind, godly person: “Don’t take away my blessing.” In other words, “I give freely for the glory of God so swallow your pride and accept my gift.” If you want to grow in your faith and Christian maturity, look for those around you in need and bless them in Jesus’ name. You have an account with God, treasure stored in heaven.

Giving is Well-Pleasing to God

God delights in His generous children. Paul described the Philippians’ gift as “a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God” (4:18). 2 Corinthians 9:7 tells us “God loves a cheerful giver.” It should be every Christian’s duty to do things that are pleasing to the Father; especially giving. God wants us to give of our time, talent, and treasure. It’s more than money, it’s yourself. What does the Lord desire? Hosea 6:6 says, “I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” The first and greatest commandment is “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matt 22:37). The second is just like it “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt 22:37). The writer of Hebrews instructs us to “not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God” (Heb 13:16). Paul wrote to Titus, “Let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful” (Titus 3:14). Give for the glory of God and as a witness for His goodness.

Giving is Dependent on the Graciousness of God

Christians should never fear suffering loss because God promises to provide. In verse 19 Paul wrote, “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” One of the biggest obstacles to sacrificial giving is the fear of loss. We live in a society that views giving as a zero-sum game. In other words, if I give something away, I automatically lose it. While this may be true when budgeting, it is not true spiritually.  The paradox of giving is that when you give; you don’t lose, you gain because of the graciousness of God. Psalm 103:8 says, “The LORD is merciful and gracious, Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.” When we give, we do so knowing that God will provide for us. We never live in fear of going without because God has promised to supply all that we need.

The Apostle Peter once asked Jesus, “See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore, what shall we have?” (Matt 19:27). Peter, a former fisherman, just heard Jesus teach on how difficult it was for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. What shall we have left, he asked, if we give up everything? Jesus told Peter that everyone who has given up anything for Him “will receive a hundredfold and inherit eternal life” (Matt 19:29). He then summarized this principle by saying, “But many who are first will be last, and the last first” (Matt 19:30, see also Mark 10:31, Luke 13:30). This is like Jesus’ statement, “whoever desires to be great among you, let him be your servant” (Matt 20:26). Jesus modeled this principle because he then said, “And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for man” (Matt 20:27-28). 

Do you believe that the more you give the more you get? Does your life demonstrate that you believe that the more you surrender the more you gain? Do you horde or do you give away? Do you give yourself in service or demand to be served? Joy increases through giving more than it does in getting. As our Lord said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). If you want to gain you must lose. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ will be with you. Glorify Him forever and ever. Amen.