God keeps good records. He once told Peter that no personal sacrifice that he made for the Kingdom would go unnoticed or unrewarded. He will say “well done, good and faithful servant.” Paul made mention of God’s 29 pleasing godreward system when he thanked the Philippians for their financial support. In essence he said some to the effect, “I am glad to have received your support, not for what it does for me as much as what it does for you. I’m excited to see fruit abound to your account. Then in Philippians 4:18 he adds another effect of sacrificial giving to God’s work. Paul writes, “I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.”

The gifts giving in support of the ministry are gifts, sacrifices that are “acceptable and well pleasing to God.” The book of Hebrews insists that the sacrificial system has been fulfilled by Jesus and there is no need for blood sacrifices anymore. Yet there are three sacrifices that a Christian can make that are pleasing to God. Hebrews 13:15-16 says, “…let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” Our praise to God from our lips is a sacrifice that we can offer to God. Doing good things for others is also seen as a well-pleasing sacrifice and finally “sharing” what we have is also well pleasing to God. Sharing is a financial term. We please God by our lips that praise Him, by our doing good for others, and by our giving.

Paul refers to the gifts he received from the Philippians as “a fragrant offering.” He shifted back to using the language of the sacrificial system of the Old Testament. It pictures specifically the burnt offering in which the whole offering was consumed by God. The aroma arose to God and was acceptable and well pleasing. I’m not sure that God literally smelled the burnt offering but regardless it wasn’t the “odor” that pleased God. God wasn’t impressed with people going through ritual activities in either the Old Testament or in our day. What pleased God is the generous spirit of His people towards each other. I like what Kent Hughes says about this. After commenting on this verse he writes, “This is so clarifying about what is important in life. God’s Word lifts the fog.”