“Inspecting Your Investments” Phil 4:14

“Inspecting Your Investments”
Phil 4:14-19 (NLT)
So how are your investments doing? It’s more than likely that you immediately thought about
your financial investments. And why not? Investment advice is everywhere—the internet, radio,
television, newspapers, magazines, banks, brokerage firms, and even in our mailboxes. The
question, of course, is always “Which source is the most trustworthy? Which investment will,
over the course of time, prove to be the wisest investment?”
But there is an investment that is much more important than our financial ones – and that’s our
investment in the cause of Christ. As Paul closes his letter to the Philippian Church, he
commends them for making good investments and, in doing so, gives us a sound investment
strategy that will have eternal value. He begins by stating that GOOD INVESTMENTS ARE
REWARDING. “I don’t say this because I want a gift from you. Rather, I want you to receive a
reward for your kindness. At the moment I have all I need—and more! I am generously supplied
with the gifts you sent me with Epaphroditus” (17-18a). Paul states that investments are
REWARDING. Paul measures the Philippians’ investment not so much by what it did for him
but for what it did for them.
In verses 14-16 he commends them for being faithful in their support of him, even when they
themselves did not have much to give. Every time they gave to support his ministry it was
credited to their account and accumulated interest. This reward is stored in the bank of heaven.
Paul also wrote to Timothy about the existence and importance of this heavenly account. “Tell
them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in
need, always being ready to share with others. By doing this they will be storing up their treasure
as a good foundation for the future so that they may experience true life” (1 Tim. 6:18-19).
God’s Word consistently teaches that we cannot give freely and willingly without energizing and
blessing our own lives. “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be
refreshed” (Prov. 11:25). “Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—
pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap.
The amount you give will determine the amount you get back” (Lk. 6:38 NLT).
Viktor Frankl spent years in a Nazi prison camp where prisoners were subjected to dehumanizing
treatment that not only threatened their physical well-being, but often took away their will to
live. Out of that experience Frankl wrote an inspiring and insightful book entitled Man’s Search
For Meaning. From his death camp observations, he documented the amazing coping powers of
humans to retain inner freedom, even while living in outward captivity.
He wrote:
“We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the
huts comforting others, giving away their last pieces of bread. They may have been few
in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but
one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of
circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
Those who gave blessed others but blessed themselves even more. They found a great reward in
investing in the lives of others, and in doing so, were able to thrive even in the midst of great
Good investments are rewarding, and they enable us to generously support the cause of Christ..
“At the moment I have all I need—and more! I am generously supplied with the gifts you sent
me with Epaphroditus” (18a). Because of the Philippians’ gift, which was apparently more than
he had anticipated, Paul was financially set and had no more need. They had given above and
beyond their means an amount that only God knew would so overwhelmingly meet Paul’s
ministry needs. God knows what His servants need and He uses other servants to adequately
meet those needs.
As Paul wrote the Corinthians:
“For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same
way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of
generosity in you. Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be
generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God.
So two good things will result from this ministry of giving—the needs of the believers in
Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God. As a result of
your ministry, they will give glory to God. For your generosity to them and to all
believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ” (2 Cor. 9:10-14).
Good investments are rewarding and they are also SACRIFICIAL. Paul puts it this way, “They
are a sweet-smelling sacrifice that is acceptable and pleasing to God” (18b). The concept of
“sweet-smelling” or “fragrant” sacrifices are frequent throughout the Bible. In the OT it occurs
in Noah’s offering “And the LORD was pleased with the aroma of [Noah’s] sacrifice” (Gen.
8:21). It was common in the system of sacrifices God established for the Israelites. “…then burn
the entire animal on the altar. This is a burnt offering to the LORD; it is a pleasing aroma, a
special gift presented to the LORD” (Ex. 29:18 NLT). In the NT the aroma comes from Jesus
offering up Himself, “Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and
sacrifice to God” (Eph. 5:2). In the same way the Philippians offerings were “sweet-smelling” in
the nostrils of God.
Their offerings were sacrificial as well because they required FAITH. They gave beyond their
means, trusting that God would take care of them. It brings to mind God’s instructions to
Abraham to offer his heir and only son Isaac up for a sacrifice. The only way Abraham could
make such an offering was to trust God to supply the heir – someway, somehow. It required
faith. The entire Old Testament sacrificial system is based upon faith. The Israelites were to give
the first of their herds and flocks, the first of their produce to the Lord. They did so trusting God
to provide an abundant harvest. It’s what Paul was referring to when he wrote the Corinthians,
“First they gave themselves to the Lord; and then, by God's will they gave themselves to us as
well” (2 Cor. 8:5 GNT).
There was a knock on the door of the hut occupied by a missionary in Africa. Answering it, the
missionary found one of the native boys holding a large fish in his hands. The boy said, “Pastor,
you taught us what tithing is, so here – I’ve brought you my tithe.” As the missionary gratefully
took the fish, he asked the boy, “If this is your tithe, where are the other nine fish?” The boy
beamed and said, “Oh, they’re still back in the river. I’m going back to catch them now.” That
was an act of faith. When we give God our left-overs, we aren’t giving out of faith. The
Philippians’ offering was given in faith.
Offerings are also sacrificial when they PLEASE GOD. “They are a sweet-smelling sacrifice that
is acceptable and pleasing to God” (18b). There is a difference between simply obeying the
commandments of God and doing those things that are pleasing in His sight. The former are
required, but the latter go beyond the call of duty. As John wrote, “And we will receive from
him whatever we ask because we obey him and do the things that please him” (1 John 3:22).
Similarly Peter wrote, “…you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a
holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (I Peter
2:5). So Paul was pleased with their gift because God was pleased with it.
In giving Paul their gift the Philippians performed an action that was “acceptable and pleasing to
God.” Even the little offerings we make to others are pleasing to God. As John Killinger noted,
“The world may not have noticed what Epaphroditus and his friends in Philippi did. It didn’t get
into the papers in Rome. But God knew.” He goes on to point out that when we die and come
into the presence of Jesus what will count will not be our great accomplishments, but, rather, our
little offerings that were big in God’s sight. It won’t be, “She was a great surgeon.” Or, “He
broke 9 records on his way to the Hall of Fame.” Or, “He authored 21 books. It will be, “He
mowed my lawn when I was sick. She cared for my children so I could rest up and heal. He
wrote me notes of encouragement when I needed them most. She befriended me when no one
else would.” It was in this spirit that the author of Hebrews encourages us “Therefore, let us offer
through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name. And
don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God”
(13:15-16 NLT).
Good investments are rewarding and sacrificial. And they are also SUSTAINING. “And this
same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have
been given to us in Christ Jesus” (19). Paul makes a tremendous promise. Note his premise: “My
God.” The value of a promise depends entirely upon the trustworthiness of the thing or person
believed. Paul’s God is the God who called Abraham out of Mesopotamia when he was an idol
worshiper and sent him on his way to a new land promising that he would be blessed and would
be a greater blessing to all people through his descendants. Paul’s God is the God who called
Israel out of Egypt, who took her through the Red Sea, who preserved her for forty years in the
wilderness, and who finally enabled her to conquer the land of Canaan. Paul’s God is the God
and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who died for our salvation and then triumphed over the
tomb. This God stands behind His promises. This was Paul’s God – so he could make a bold
The promise was based on this principle: GOD PROVIDES. “…my God will supply all your
needs…” (19). He told the Philippians that they met his one need in abundance and God will
meet all their needs in abundance. He gave the same promise to the Corinthians: “Remember
this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants
generously will get a generous crop. You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And
don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. ‘For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.’
And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need
and plenty left over to share with others” (2 Cor. 9:6-8). If we give for the purpose of getting a
reward, the promise is null and void. Paul is talking about sacrificial offerings. Those who give
sacrificially, for the cause of and out of the love of Jesus Christ, will discover that all their needs
will be supplied – often in ways they could never expect or define.
And notice the PROVISION by which God gives: “…from His glorious riches.” God has
inexhaustible resources! His bank never goes bankrupt. I wonder how often we stop to reflect on
the wealth and abundance of God’s promises?
Are you ready to make good investments in the cause of Christ? Are you ready to be caught up
in an adventure that’s larger than you; to claim a vision that didn’t begin with you, doesn’t end
with you, yet gives you life – a vision that’s worth living for and dying for? The adventure is
investing your life and resources in Jesus Christ – and it’s an adventure that is overwhelming
I trust that as we look at this passage the Holy Spirit will have planted in each of our hearts a
desire to invest in something infinitely greater than ourselves, something that will be rewarding
for time and eternity—the cause of Christ. The challenge is in moving from the ideal to the
reality. This means that we must get our economic house in order and live by biblical principles,
realizing that we must be good stewards or managers of the financial resources God has
entrusted to us.
This is why we are again offering Dave Ramsey’s FPU on Wednesday nights beginning January
20th. We have had over a 100 people go through this 9 week course and would like to offer it
again for those who haven’t taken the course or need to take it again.
Goshen, BMMC – 1/3/2016
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