Partners: Give and Receive 1
10 How grateful I am and how I praise the Lord that you are helping me again. I know you have always been anxious to send what you could, but for a while you didn’t have the chance.
11 Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to get along happily whether I have much or little.
12 I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of contentment in every situation, whether it be a full stomach or hunger, plenty or want;
13 for I can do everything God asks me to with the help of Christ who gives me the strength and power. 14 But even so, you have done right in helping me in my present difficulty.
15 As you well know, when I first brought the Gospel to you and then went on my way, leaving Macedonia, only you Philippians became my partners in giving and receiving. No other church did this.
16 Even when I was over in Thessalonica you sent help twice.
17 But though I appreciate your gifts, what makes me happiest is the well-earned reward you will have because of your kindness.
18 At the moment I have all I need-more than I need! I am generously supplied with the gifts you sent me when Epaphroditus came. They are a sweet-smelling sacrifice that pleases God well.
19 And it is he who will supply all your needs from his riches in glory because of what Christ Jesus has done for us.
When the Apostle Paul preached the Gospel in the city of Philippi and then went on to his next destination, the Philippian Christians decided they would help support Paul in doing God's work. In verse 15 above, Paul calls this becoming "partners in giving and receiving".
It was a partnership because the Philippians didn't send just one gift to the Apostle. It seems that as long as they knew where he was, they sent a messenger to look him up and give toward his needs as he preached. This meant that Paul could put all his energies into God's work and he didn't have to take another job in order to support himself.
This is very much like what the widow did for the Prophet Elijah in the incident we have been considering:
1 Kings 17:
8 Then the LORD spoke his word to Elijah,
9 "Go to Zarephath in Sidon and live there. I have commanded a widow there to take care of you."
10 So Elijah went to Zarephath. When he reached the town gate, he saw a widow gathering wood for a fire.
Elijah asked her, "Would you bring me a little water in a cup so I may have a drink."
11 As she was going to get his water, Elijah said, "Please bring me a piece of bread, too."
12 The woman answered, "As surely as the LORD your God lives, I have no bread. I have only a handful of flour in a jar and only a little olive oil in a jug. I came here to gather some wood so I could go home and cook our last meal. My son and I will eat it and then die from hunger."
13 "Don't worry," Elijah said to her.
"Go home and cook your food as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread from the flour you have, and bring it to me. Then cook something for yourself and your son.
14 The LORD, the God of Israel, says, 'That jar of flour will never be empty, and the jug will always have oil in it, until the day the LORD sends rain to the land.' "
15 So the woman went home and did what Elijah told her to do. And the woman and her son and Elijah had enough food every day.
16 The jar of flour and the jug of oil were never empty, just as the LORD, through Elijah, had promised.
(New Century Bible)
Notice how this partnering in giving and receiving worked positively for both parties.
In the case of the Philippians, when they gave to Paul's work, they received - not from Paul, but from God - the reward for their giving. Paul told them that God would "supply all your needs from his riches in glory because of what Christ Jesus has done for us."
The same thing applied in the case of the Widow of Zarephath, who partnered in giving and receiving with the Prophet Elijah. God supplied all her needs from His riches in glory and she and her family came through the famine alive and well and praising God.
Father in heaven, help me to be like the widow of Zarephath, so that I can hear your instructions, especially about partnering with Your servants in giving and receiving.
Help me also to obey your instructions the way she did,
in Jesus' name, Amen.