You didn't have to, but thanks!

In the context of stating that he had learned to be content in whatever physical state he had found himself, Paul relates this thought:

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)

We’re more than familiar with that thought. It’s been the theme of sermons, it’s been stitched on purses and it’s been painted on walls.

But how about the thought that comes immediately after. The one that says it’s more than just the thought that counts. The one that says:

Nevertheless you have done well that you shared in my distress.” (Philippians 4:14)

When it came to the help that was sent by the church at Philippi to the encumbered apostle who thought so much of them (Philippians 1:3-5), Paul, in a roundabout way, was saying that they didn’t have to do what they did, but what they did made him very happy.

Perhaps this thought should be the theme of as many sermons, should be stitched on as many purses and painted on as many walls as well.

The church at Philippi, along with Paul, had the right mindset – they were doing things out of love, and not necessarily out of necessity. And such a way of doing good works is still the model that will cause many more to say with a smile of their face, “You didn’t have to, but thanks!”

#gift-giving, #good-works, #love, #philippians

The giving of gifts

A Swiss author, I believe it was, wrote a small book back in the mid-1900s (doesn’t that sound ancient?) on the giving of gifts. He said that when gift-giving, especially the value of the gifts, is disproportionate between two people, the relationship is changed, no longer between equals. I suppose that’s why best friends haggle over dividing up a restaurant bill.

That says much about our relationship with God, doesn’t it? Some presentations of the gospel I’ve seen talk about God’s part and man’s part, and it seems that they’re almost equal. Or, if you go by the amount of time spent on man’s part, you’d think he does more. But the value of the gift of the Son’s life is so far above and beyond any small “contribution” that man makes, that the nature of the relationship is absolutely disproportionate. Man’s part should always be cast as a receiving of the free gift, rather than as any contribution to salvation.

In human relationships, missionaries must be careful that they don’t become benefactors and patrons, rather than coworkers, by the value of the gifts or of material help they give to converts.

#christmas, #gift-of-salvation, #gift-giving