Inspiring National Churches
When I was in Vietnam last year, I had the privilege of teaching in a Bible School for a week. The class was “How to be a Sending Church” – the topic that is my passion for national churches worldwide, including the national churches of America and the local church where you minister. The class focused on four key areas; how to select, how to support, how to send, and how to sustain your missionary from your local church. This is available as a seminar; if you are interested, let me know.
As I prepared for teaching the seminar, I came across a quotation copied from a missions book that caused me to take a closer look at Philippians 4:19. In the discussion of ‘how to support’, the emphasis is placed on both financial and non-financial support. I tried to highlight that the non-financial support of the local church was actually more important than their financial giving. Most people would look at Philippians 4 as a thank you from Paul for their financial support. That is certainly included but look first at verse 10. Paul is rejoicing over their care for him being evidenced; though he knew they cared but lacked opportunity to show it.
In verses 11-13, Paul’s makes it clear that money is secondary. He has learned contentment. But he has also been instructed (12), a different Greek word meaning ‘initiated into a mystery’. He was taught the secret of contentment and it is expressed to the Philippian church in the well-known words of verse 13. IN CHRIST, I can bear any trial, perform any duty, subdue any evil thought, meet any temptation, etc. IN CHRIST, I can be content whatever my circumstances – there is joy in serving Jesus! Further in the passage, verse 17, he professes that he had no desire (not seeking, not longing) for them to give.
Yet in verse 17, he also recognizes the sacrifice of the Philippian church to give to him and acknowledges it as an act of worship (building off Old Testament terms). Money they could have used for themselves or their church was given to reach people they do not know in places they may never go!
He did not need their money to survive, nor did he desire that they give. But, they did give (verses 15 and 16). And what did he do with their money? He used it to win SOULS! His desire (seeking , longing) was that fruit would be borne. His entire ministry mindset was on winning souls because Paul’s desire was that this fruit would be added to the Philippian Church members’ account, an account in Heaven awaiting the Day of Judgment. Their sacrifice of worship would advance the ministry of soul winning and souls won to Christ would be added to their account in Heaven!
Then comes the other very well-known verse of Philippians 4. Jim Starr in Igniting HEARTS writes, “Paul did not say: ‘God shall supply all MY need’. He said: ‘God shall supply all YOUR need’. The promise of having needs met is not directed to the missionary, but to the one who supports the missionary.” Think on that!!
HOWEVER, before you get too excited, STOP and take a closer look. Your care is what is most important in the passage – the heart of the pastor, the heart of the people. Giving is simply the evidence of YOUR CARE. Souls won, added to your account, and your needs met are simply by-products of YOUR CARE, evidenced by your giving.
DO you care? Do YOU care? Do you CARE?
Perhaps we should make one more comment: If you do not care, KEEP YOUR MONEY! God will supply! Hudson Taylor is quoted as saying, “God’s work done God’s way will never lack God’s supply”.
I look forward to hearing from you with any comments. May God bless your ministry today!
If you would like to contact Paul regarding this article, please email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.