You can tell a lot about a person's spirituality by what they do with money. Just take a tour of their checkbook and you'll find out what's important to them. As Jesus said, "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:21).

The church at Philippi was a model of sacrificial, generous giving. They had sent a man named Epaphroditus 800 miles from Philippi to Rome with a lavish gift for Paul the apostle. We can learn a lot about giving from what Paul wrote to them in Philippians 4.

1. Giving to God's work is good. Paul commended the Philippians for their generosity then gave insight into heavenly accounting procedures: "You have done well that you shared in my distress…. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account" (vv. 14, 17), or interest accrued on the credit side of the ledger.

Here's how it worked: the Philippians supported Paul as he preached the gospel, and God marked the fruit that came from Paul's ministry to their eternal account. That means when you get to heaven, somebody might walk up to you and say, "You supported that ministry whereby I heard the gospel, and I'm here in part due to your faithfulness."

2. Giving is rewarded in the here and now. Paul said, "My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (v. 19). This doesn't mean if you're a Christian, God will automatically care for whatever you need no matter what you do with your finances. But Paul was essentially saying, "Philippians, you've filled me up; now my God is going to fill you up." God generously treats those who treat others generously (see Proverbs 11:25; Luke 6:38).

3. But the highest reason to give and be generous is because God likes it. Paul called the gift from the Philippians "a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God" (v. 18). During the morning and evening sacrifices in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago, it would've smelled like a massive barbeque. Add to that the incense of the temple, and the combined smell made this wonderful aroma that Paul said is what our giving smells like to God. This should be our highest motivation for giving: not because the church needs it, but because God is worth it.

In the end, we are stewards of whatever God has given us (see Deuteronomy 8:18). And He wants us to use it wisely. Whatever you place in His hands for His glory, He'll take care of you, supply your needs, and tally whatever fruit comes out of your investment to your account in heaven.

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