“I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:18-19
With a telescope our eyes can see the stars in the deeper heavens beyond what is in immediate sight of the night sky. While the Philippian church sent a financial gift to Paul with him as the focus in their sight, Paul’s reply, like the telescope extended their sight, enabled them to see who else they had touched with their financial gift. Paul revealed that their gift touched God also, as a “fragrant offering” and “sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God”. These descriptions had been descriptive firstly of Christ’s sacrifice; complete and finished. Describing their financial gift with similar terms, Paul revealed that their financial gift is thus joined into the whole of God’s mission to reach and save the lost.
The Butterfly Effect (associated with mathematician and meteorologist, Edward Norton Lorenze) highlighted how even a small but certain type of outside influence to original conditions could contribute towards changes to the course and outcome of a process. Hence that spectacular question, how does a butterfly flapping its wings from a distant place several weeks earlier affect a tornado’s formation and the path it will take? Many agree that although the financial gift cost the Philippian church dearly and it was indeed sacrificial, it was however probably modest in actual sum. Against the magnitude of global outreach, could their modest financial gift be like the butterfly flapping its wings? For indeed similar reasons, while Paul gratefully acknowledged the money as their gift to him personally, he acknowledged it however with the surprising but instructive word, “apecho” (Greek); which to them is a “receipt” in a business transaction. Paul does not mean however that they were buying and had paid fully for his service. Rather, he used these terms to lead them to comprehend God’s mission as a wholistic process and how their gift became a part in that whole. Rejoicing over their gift as “full payment”, Paul showed them that their financial gift had indeed become an integral component for bringing that process to its completion.
Paul knew that their financial gift had cost them dearly and they had been sacrificial. He assures them that God knows it too and He will supply for their own need and even reward them. As you see your financial gifts in this light, may you rejoice ever more as a cheerful giver and be also assured that God will supply and reward you too.
Rev. Joseph Goh