June 26, 2018

Living Generous Lives

Philippians 4:14-16

It was good of you to share in my troubles.

—  Philippians 4:14

Paul was a contented Christian. Yes, he could put up with all kinds of things (good and bad), in Christ’s strength. Still, everyone needs a little help from friends now and then. And there is nothing wrong with admitting that.

The Philippians had helped Paul by supplying him with some money, and perhaps some food and clothing, on more than one occasion. That did not go unnoticed, and Paul did not pretend that he didn’t need the help, or that he would have been just fine without it. Paul admitted that it was kind and helpful of the Philippians to send their gifts to him.

He even said that the Philip­pians did a better job than some other congregations he had worked with. Here it seems that Paul was engaging in a bit of back-handed shaming toward those other churches, and this may be surprising to us.

But from earlier in this letter we know where Paul was coming from. It’s not that he was begging for money or trying to manipulate anyone. For Paul, generosity was clearly a part of the whole Jesus package. Living generous lives shows that we “get it” when it comes to the gospel. In response to God’s amazing grace, we give too! And Paul dearly wanted everyone to under­stand this—because getting Jesus right is the most important thing in the whole universe!

Lord Jesus, you gave yourself for us, emptying yourself of everything but your great love. Help us to catch this vision and to lead generous lives of self-giving always. In your name, 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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