Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. 15 And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. 16 Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. 17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. 18 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.19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. 20 To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.
I recall vividly an event that occurred almost 40 years ago. I was going to the mail box in our apartment in Fort Wayne, Indiana. We were early in our second year of seminary and facing some financial challenges that were nearly insurmountable. I had considered dropping out of school and getting a job, saving up for a return as soon as possible.
That morning, however, began a series of events that changed all those plans. It started with a plain white envelope in the mail with no return address and a type-written note wrapped around three $100 bills saying, “The Lord cares about everything.”Later that week we learned that anonymous donors were giving us gifts that made it possible to stay in the seminary and complete my second year in preparation for my vicarage (internship) and final year of school.
Fruit increased to people’s credit whom we will never know through this kindness. It was truly a fragrant offering. It was evidence of God’s promise to satisfy our every need according to his riches.
Note well, also, how Paul ties this to Jesus Christ, and focuses all the praise to “our God and Father.” I am convinced that gifts such as this are meant not only to relieve immediate needs and testify to God’s present goodness, but also to provide us with a foretaste of the complete provision of God’s salvation that is to come on the Great Last Day. This supply will last for all eternity – a supply of praise to God, joy for the saved, and glory unlike anything we have ever experienced in this life.
Somehow these gifts increase to the credit of those who give them. But ultimately all credit goes to God, with those who have received the gifts and those who have given them saying, To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen!