Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid more than once when I was in need.
Living in Tanzania for two years really helped to emphasise how good we have it in Canada. Life was very different but neither us nor the kids seemed to think we were missing out on much. We told ourselves we could do with much less when we got home. For instance, we thought that one vehicle for the family would be just fine. The reality of that lived for a couple of weeks. Different circumstances call for different responses.
Paul was a contented Christian. Yes, he could put up with all kinds of things (good and bad), in Christ’s strength. 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.
Paul went so far to say that the Philippians did a better job than some other congregations he had worked with. It might even seem 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! Some of the churches understood this better than others. 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.