Paul The Fundraiser
October 19, 2020 - January 1, 2030
Paul, The Fundraiser
Paul and the Philippian Church
Paul goes on in Philippians 4, “Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account. I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”
Here Paul demonstrates a little of his theology of generosity and giving. In a nutshell, Paul believed that giving to others was like planting seeds. You would reap a harvest for your generosity.
Paul Fundraising for Others
Paul wrote to the church in Corinth about a trip he would soon make to them for the express purpose of taking up a collection for the churches in Judea who were suffering from famine. He exhorted them, “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work…Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God” (2 Corinthians 9:6-8).
Paul believed that giving did not impoverish the giver. Indeed, he believed that both the giver and the receiver were enriched by generosity. Studying blessing in the Bible is a big task because it is woven throughout the entire scriptures, but you can kind of think of it this way – blessing is God’s power poured out to bring abundance or to make things work well.
A Christian “quid-pro-quo”?
I don’t think Paul was telling the Corinthian church to give in order to get blessed by God, as if it were some sort of quid pro quo. I think he was telling them to give without worrying that they themselves would run short. God wouldn’t let their giving end up impoverishing them. His blessing would abound to both the giver and receiver of generosity.
Paul and the Romans
Paul happily received support when it was given to him by churches and individuals (like Phoebe in Romans 16:1) whom he trusted, knowing that in giving, they were blessed themselves. But did Paul ever ask for support?
He did, or at least he said that he was going to. He wrote the book of Romans in preparation for his visit to the churches of that city. He planned to go on from there to Spain. In Romans 15:23-4 he wrote, “…since I have been longing for many years to visit you, I plan to do so when I go to Spain. I hope to see you while passing through and to have you assist me on my journey there, after I have enjoyed your company for a while.” He gives them fair warning that he plans for them to help him on his way. The verb “propempo” is the same Greek word used for outfitting a ship with everything it needs for a voyage at sea. He’s not shy about telling them that that was his intention either. He knows he’s doing God’s work, he knows that he needs help to go to Spain, and he believes that it will be a blessing for the church in Rome to be involved by helping him with what he needs.
Those of us who rely on the support of others need to know those three things too:
- That we’re doing God’s work,
- That we need help, and
- That those who show generosity to us will themselves be blessed by doing so.
All scripture quotations are from the New International Version.
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