I have received full payment and have more than enough. 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. Philippians 4:18 (NIV).
I like how Paul equates material support from his friends to a sacrifice to God. He isn’t putting himself in the place of God but, instead, is commending the Philippians on their caring willingness to want to help someone. It’s their attitude and not Paul’s status that is the focus of the verse.
And it should be our starting point for the day. In a related verse (from 2 Corinthians), Paul alludes to our words and deeds also being a ‘fragrant offering’ before God. Like what the Philippians did for Paul – money, supplies, encouragement – we, too, should offer up what we say and do as a kind of worship to the Lord. What we say and do should be noticeable to others as something respectful and worshipful of our God.
Admit it: that can be a tall order when you’re sheltering in place; when you’re locked down in your home and forced to spend quarantined time doing unusual things to keep busy. Tedium can quickly set in and tempers wear thin. Yes, this is very much a first-world problem, but don’t forget that most of the world is dealing with this same crisis. Instead of lighting a short fuse, how about we step back from that and regard what we say and do as ways to honor God?
Sick of working from home? Thank God that we can. Tired of being with your kids and family and those closest to you? Thank the Lord you’re all safe. Weary of the hoarders in the store and the me-first attitude that short tempers reveal? Thank God for His provisioning anyway. God is still very, very active in what we’re doing, especially now when millions of people are affected by this common crisis.
If you think about it, maybe if we used the crisis as a common way to return our focus to Him in what we think, say, and do, it could turn around our attitudes about it. That starts with the people still right beside us. We get to resolve today to spend a few minutes more talking with Jesus, then a few minutes putting His peace to work in our relationships. One step at a time, one interaction at a time, one person at a time. Whether we give of ourselves in serving others or simply talk with each other more, our words, actions, and gifts could then be regarded as fragrant sacrifices to God, pleasing to Him and noticeable to others. In that way, His Kingdom may better grow and prosper even when it’s under attack.
For further reading: 2 Corinthians 2:14, Philippians 4:19.
Caring Lord Jesus, mold me today to serve You in what I think, say, and do with others. Grow Your Kingdom starting in this place.