v 18. 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.
In order to continue with his missionary ventures Paul depended on the generosity of Christian friends and churches, much as most missionaries still do today. This particular letter, to the Church in Philippi, was written at a time when Paul was in prison and even there he was visiited and brought gifts. It was this church that had always suppoted him, he wrote, ‘you Philippians were the only ones who gave me financial help when I first brought you the Good News and then travelled on from Macedonia. No other church did this.‘ It was in Philippi that Paul suffered hugely – read about it in Acts 16 – and yet also where he was offered hospitality by a merchant, Lydia who dealt in purple cloth. It was the Philippians who sent gifts all the way to Paul when he was in prison. Yet Paul could say to them ‘Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. ‘ (v 11)
And here, I suspect, lies one of the secrets of generosity: Paul had learned contentment. Paul was generous himself, giving his life to serving God. He was grateful for the generous gifts he received, but with plenty or nothing he had learned contentment. And where does contentment come from? It is rooted in a life of trusting God whatever comes along. The person who is contented is able to both and give and receive with generosity.
How content are you at the present moment?
Pray for a spirit of contentment and generosity that touches the lives of those around you