Many frown upon the subject of giving; however, this may very well be because they have never considered the benefits involved in it. In his second epistle to the saints at Corinth Paul stated, “Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and in knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also” (II Cor. 8:7). “This grace also” refers to giving. This can easily be discovered by noting the context.

In the closing words of Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi (ch. 4) he discusses the giving of the Philippians in assisting him in his work. There are at least four great lessons that can be derived from what he said.

Their giving was “from the beginning of the gospel” (v. 15). In 1:5, Paul had mentioned “your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now.” This shows that the subject of giving is one that needs to be taught from the start of one’s life as a Christian and not reserved for later. It is a mistake when we fail to teach new converts the importance of the grace of giving.

The Philippians’ giving is said to be “fruit that may abound to your account” (v. 17). Folks that have never learned the blessed privilege we have in giving have not yet realized the true joy of the Christian life. Paul’s desire was that what the church at Philippi had done for him would be credited to their account by God. The “fruit” denotes the results of what is produced. What an encouragement Paul’s words should be to those who give liberally and generously to the work of the church and the preaching of the gospel.

Their giving is said to be “an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God” (v. 18). Let us never be guilty of the sins of God’s people in the days of Malachi. They were offering unto God the blind, the lame, and sick—less than their best (Mal. 1:7-8a). Let each of us be sure that we put the Lord first in our giving, that we offer unto God the firstfruits of our flock, the firstfruits of our increase. Let us offer unto God the very best that we have, not our leftovers.

Abel’s giving was respected above that of his brother, Cain, because he “brought of the firstlings of his flocks, and of the fat thereof” (Gen. 4:4). We learn from Hebrews 11:4 that Abel’s offering was by faith and faith comes by hearing the word of God (Rom. 10:17). Thus Abel was offering as God had told them. The Hebrew writer calls his sacrifice “more excellent.”

We are to give unto God proportionately (I Cor. 16:1; II Cor. 8:12-13), bountifully (II Cor. 9:6), and cheerfully (II Cor. 9:7). Our giving must be planned (purposed) “…as he purposeth in his heart.” It is not to be “grudgingly or of necessity.”
There is a statement in Proverbs 3:9 that we need to consider when we are planning our giving. Solomon wrote, “Honor the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase.” When you get a raise at work, an increase in your social security check, an increase in your retirement, interest on a CD or other savings, do you give proportionately of the increase to the Lord?

(4) The Philippians’ giving had God’s promise behind it. Paul said, “My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (v. 19). When one gives liberally and willingly to the Lord, he reaps blessings himself. “Honor the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst with new wine” (Prov. 3:9-10). “The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered himself” (Prov. 11:25). “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (Mal. 3:10). “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measure to you again” (Luke 6:38). As the late and beloved Marshall Keeble used to say, “You can’t out-give God. We shovel it in to Him, and He shovels it back to us; only His shovel is much larger than ours.”

Let us learn the joy of giving that we “may abound in this grace also.”

—Paul M. Wilmoth January 18, 1944 – April 5, 2021