Online Bible Commentary
You Can’t Outgive God
Philippians 4:14 Nevertheless you have done well that you shared in my distress. 15 Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only. 16 For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities. 17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account. 18 Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God. 19 And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. 20 Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen. (NKJV)
In this passage Paul begins by commending the believers at Philippi for supporting him financially in his work for the Lord (v.14). He writes that even when he first brought them the gospel, on his second missionary journey, they supported him (v.15).
The word translated “shared” in verse fifteen is the Greek word “koinoneo”, which is the verb for the noun “koinonia” which means fellowship, participation, sharing, or contribution. He writes that they “shared with me concerning giving and receiving.”
They were the only church that supported him after leaving Philippi. Even when he was in Thessalonica for a short time, they supplied his needs “once and again” (v.16).
Paul writes that it is not the gift that excites him, but it is the knowledge that the giver will be credited (v.17). He writes that, with their gifts, he is now “full” and that the gifts are “well pleasing to God” (v.18).
The Bible teaches that God owns everything. When we give to Him we are just giving back part of what He has already given us. The Old Testament calls for Christians to tithe, to give ten percent off the top (Malachi 3). The New Testament calls for Christians to give what “he has decided in his heart to give” and that you will reap what you sow (2 Cor 9).
There are at least four principles of giving outlined in this passage. The first occurs when Paul refers to the two way street that is giving.
When we give to the Lord’s work, we also receive (v.15). The word translated “abounds” (v.17) is the Greek word “pleonazo”, which means “to make increase, to grow.” Our money magically grows, it stretches farther, like the five loaves of bread and the two fish that fed the five thousand (Mark 5:38). We receive an unexpected gift, a lower than expected bill, an extra bump in our paycheck, or a lower than expected repair bill.
When we don’t give to His work, that money always gets spent. We may have an unexpected repair, a bill that is higher than normal, an unexpected medical need, or a hit to our paycheck. We can’t outgive God. He is always faithful to honor our giving to His work. He will meet all our needs (v.19), when we are faithful and obedient.
Second, the motive for giving should be pure. There was no such thing as a tax deduction at that time, and it may well be that way again. The early believers gave purely, out of their hearts, for the sole purpose of advancing the gospel.
Third, the believers were not just giving to support their local church. They were also giving to support ministries, such as Paul’s. Our gifts are to go to the work of the Lord. By giving to Paul, the Philippian believers show us that it is Biblical to use part of your gift to support ministries outside of your local church.
The fourth principle of giving presented in this passage is how the gift affects the receiver. The church at Philippi held a special place in Paul’s heart. They showed their love and appreciation for Paul with not just their words, but also their actions. This letter, unlike others, did not criticize the church itself. Paul always thought fondly of them, and so did God.