It is Philippians 4:15-17 that has contributed most to my own shift in thinking and feelings about living by being supported by others. I know I’m not alone in feeling like I’m bothering or burdening people when I ask them to support us. Almost everyone I’ve ever taught has these feelings.
“15 And you yourselves know, Philippians, that at the first preaching of the gospel, after I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving but you alone;
16 for even in Thessalonica you sent a gift more than once for my needs.
17 Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your account.”
– Philippians 4:15 – 17:
Seeking the blessing for others
Paul really understood what partnering for the gospel was all about. In his letter to the church in Philippi he thanks them for their support and tells them how much they have blessed him. But then he gets to the heart of it (my paraphrase for verse 17): “But it’s not just that I want your money. I’m more excited about how God will BLESS YOU for giving to make it possible for the gospel to be preached.” He knew that it would be to their profit to support him.
Paul wasn’t “me” centered; he wasn’t worried about what they would think of him because he received money from them. I was quite “me” centered for many years – caught up in how it made ME feel, wondering what they would think of ME asking them for money, etc. Paul’s focus on how THEY would be blessed because of THEIR giving has helped me to shift the focus off of me.
Giving vs. receiving
With the Philippians he was more excited that they gave than that he received. He talks about their account getting credited (presumably their account in heaven, not in the Bank of Philippi!), describes their support as being a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God and tells them that God will meet all their needs (notice that this promise is for the supporter/giver, not the receiver).
Everyone plays a part
God has purposed that everyone would be involved in advancing the Kingdom. When we invite people to partner with us we are offering them an opportunity to invest what they have been given to spread His transforming love. I no longer feel like I’m burdening people or depleting them of something. I’ve come to see the truth that it will be an opportunity for them to partner to spread the gospel, whether through finances, prayer or practical help. They will be blessed because of it!