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August 23, 2008

A Fragrant Gift is One that is Prompted by Love

by Dave Malnes

The Apostle Paul expressed love, care and concern for his former congregation while awaiting trial in Rom. Out of thanksgiving for the special relationship he had with each member, he pours out his heart in thanksgiving for the prayerful and financial support they have given him.

“Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid again and again when I was in need. Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account. I have received full payment and even more; 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 his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (Philippians 4:14-20)

It’s nice to receive gifts, especially from people you know and care about. In Paul’s case, he appreciated the heart behind the gift.

A faithful heart, knowing he was the Lord’s servant and they were brothers and sisters in Christ, prompted and inspired their gift. Paul was overjoyed that the motivation behind the gift was not because of pity or guilt, but from a heart overflowing with the right spirit.

It is the same way when we give to the Lord out of a faithful and cheerful heart, not out of reluctance.  That is what makes the gift a “fragrant offering” to the Lord.

We note that the gifts that were sent from Epaphroditus were one of several that had come to Paul. They represented a consistent pattern of support. Gifts prompted by love are not a one-time gift, but a continuous flow whom God uses for His own purposes. Each gift is a sweet-smelling fragrance – an acceptable sacrifice that is prompted by the love and trust we have placed in our Almighty God. They are acceptable because of Christ’s work for us (1 Peter 2:5) and God’s work in us (Phil. 2:13).

We see one of many promises in that God will supply all of our needs, not as a wealthy person, but the riches of a sovereign God, the ruler of the universe, who cares deeply about his children and has limitless resources to supply our every need (physical, emotional, spiritual).

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