Paul’s expression of gratitude for the financial support he received was clearly expressed. Yet he wanted them to know that much of his thankfulness had to do with witnessing the spiritual maturity of a group of believers 28 to givewho would give to advance the gospel by supporting Paul’s efforts. He wanted them to know that his motive in his ministry is never for personal gain. In Philippians 4:17 he expresses that and then adds to it that much of his gratitude was in witnessing the deposits that the Philippians were making into their spiritual accounts in heaven. He says, “Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit.” His motive is not to receive personal support but he “seeks” the growth of the giver as well as the credits accruing to their accounts with God. There are many increases to the accounts of givers. They lay up treasure in heaven and they even get the joys of giving on earth.

Paul wants them to know that it wasn’t so much the gift as it was the giving the pleased him. I remember my first year in Seminary. We were living in H.U.D. apartments in the inner city of Dallas. After church one Sunday a gentleman handed me $20 and said he and his wife wanted to take us to dinner but he had been called away and had to leave. He wanted us to go out on them. Now $20, even in 1982, wasn’t all that much and there were four of us. But I can’t tell you what that did for me in that this man said that he loved to contribute to Seminary students whenever he could because he knew that God would use them and he wanted to partner in some little way with them. His vote of confidence in me greatly encouraged me. Even after 30 years I think of him and consider him as a partner with me every time I share the gospel or am preaching a sermon.

God owns the cattle on a thousand hills and can sell any of them at any time and provide for the support of his ministers. He used a raven to feed Elijah. Yet, he chooses to use people. I’ve also found in the years since then when I’ve been more blessed to be on the giving side rather than just on the receiving side that Jesus’ last recorded words are absolutely correct. He said “It is more blessed (happy!), to give than to receive.” This is one of the best beatitudes of all. The beatitudes in Matthew show us how to be blessed or happy, but this one shows us how to be “more” blessed or happy. It’s a great reminder to me as a minister of the gospel to remember that I must be more concerned about what I may give to my church than what I can get from my church. Ask not what your church can do for you, but what you can do for your church!