June 27, 2018

Fragrant Offerings

Philippians 4:17-19

I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.

—  Philippians 4:18

As a pastor, I admit that I did not often view my weekly paycheck, or the home that the church provided me, or the apple pie someone brought over now and then as a fragrant offering to God. Obviously I should have! Paul did. In the past few days we have seen Paul talking both about contentment in times of want and about gratitude in times of plenty.

Clearly the Philippians had provided nicely for their founding pastor. Paul deeply appreciated the gifts that Epaphroditus had brought from Philippi. He not only enjoyed the gifts but also saw them as proof that the Philippians were really living for Christ’s glory above all. He knew God smiled on their generous sacrifices and would more than amply bless his people in Philippi.

Today the topic of sacrificial giving can be a touchy subject in the church. Ministers are sometimes accused of being greedy. And preaching on Stewardship Sunday can be a nerve-wracking challenge for many pastors. There may not be easy ways to deal with this more positively, but certainly a step in the right direction would be to recognize that all generous giving is a fragrant offering to God.

It is a privilege to give! Just as we have freely received salvation and new life through the Savior, shall we not freely give?

If we are blessed to give, dear Father, help us to do so joyfully, freely, and to your honor and glory, not our own. In Christ, who gave his all for us. Amen.

About the author — Scott Hoezee

Scott Hoezee is an ordained minister in the Christian Reformed Church who served two congregations before joining the faculty at Calvin Theological Seminary in 2005 as the director of its Center for Excellence in Preaching. He is the author of numerous books, reviews, and articles, and he is a cohost of the radio program Groundwork, a sister-program of Today devotional. He is married to Rosemary Apol, and they have two adult children and a Boston terrier named Chester.

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