Live Full | Stay Hungry

One of the most talked about foundations of the church, yet the least taught on is the avenue of giving. The world today is far more self-centered when it comes to what is "mine". Like little children we think, "What's mine is mine and I'm not giving even one thing for something that does not create an immediate result that will gratify me." Paul writes of the generosity of the church of Philippi in Philippians 4:10-20 that challenges this self-gratification worldview.

In verse 10, he begins with an encouragement to the church by saying that the church truly cared for Paul, but "lacked opportunity". In other words, they really wanted to give and meet Paul's needs, but didn't have the opportunity to do so. Paul states in verse 11, "not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content "  In verse 12, he says that he knows how to be abased, or how to live humbly, and that he knows how to abound, or how to live in prosperity.

But then Paul makes a remarkable statement: "Everywhere and in all things I have learned to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need." Most of the time when the word "content" is preached on, it is done so with the emphasis that we are to thank God for what we have. We're told, "Be thankful for what you have and don't focus on what you don't have." Yet Paul says, "I'm content, but that doesn't mean that I don't hunger for more." We can be full in all things, and still hunger for more. Paul knew this church wanted to meet his needs, but didn't have the opportunity to do so, so until they could, he learned how to be content in lack just as he would be content in prosperity. When Paul speaks to the Philippians of what it is to suffer, the word suffer in those verses means to want, to be in want, to be behind or to lack, which is exactly where he was at without their gifts. Paul learned how to be content when he was well taken care of and when he was in great need, and this is what led to his well quoted saying, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

The people of Philippi shared in Paul's financial distress and they took ownership as soon as the opportunity arose.The Philippians shared with Paul in giving and receiving. When the church knew Paul had necessity, they gave again and again, even when no one else was. They took care of Paul's needs so that he did not lack in anything.

What I love is what Paul tells the Philippians in verse 17, "not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds (Greek translation: exists in abundance) to your account." This church had to be blessed financially because of their giving to Paul and the continual increase in giving to the Kingdom work (law of sowing and reaping). Paul told them, "I'm not seeking after the gift you send me; I seek that you have everything you need to live prosperous." Paul explains how the gifts they sowed into his necessities that made him full were an acceptable sacrifice well pleasing to God. Then Paul blessed the givers in verse 19, "And my God shall supply all your needs (necessities) according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus."

This church knew Paul had needs, so they gave to meet those needs and then their needs were automatically met in overabundance by God. When you give into the Kingdom, take note that it is the responsibility of the receiver of that gift to declare the blessing of the Lord back into your life. May the Lord supply all you need, want, and desire according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Watch your life abound as you continue to give into the Kingdom. Don't grow weary in your well doing; your harvest is coming if you do not lose heart!

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Chris Brooks