Wisdom in receiving
Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. 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. Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit.
I recently met a retired missionary who’d spent some years working in post-colonial Indonesia. While he was welcomed by the local church that he worked alongside, they laid down some ground rules in advance.
- They would bring no foreign finance.
- They would live in the house that the church chose and provided.
- They would not speak in any church meeting, unless invited to do so.
- They would be the only missionary couple stationed with the church.
It wasn’t personal, but the elders of the church wanted to lay safeguards that would ensure that they could not exercise undue influence. They were aware that money never comes without there being strings attached – and they didn’t want to allow the church to become financially dependant, and thus vulnerable to interference from those who weren’t the appointed elders.
Paul shows a similar concern – there are churches, like the church at Corinth, that he does not accept personal gifts from – despite them being possibly the most financially prosperous church in world at that time. But the church in Philippi was whole-heartedly committed to the mission that Paul was engaged in. The church was planted by Paul and then proceeded to partner with Paul – they chose to share in his trouble and help provide for his needs.
We need to be wise and discerning about who we receive from – and be particularly so when it comes to money. It always comes with strings attached. But when we find those who are willing to give in a way which makes our mission easier and more fruitful, then let’s embrace those opportunities and seek that the giver is blessed too.