“But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity.”—Philippians 4:10 (NKJV)
For some, it’s not easy to receive financial help, especially from friends. Often, pride takes over and accepting a handout or financial gift brings about a sense of embarrassment, possibly even deep shame and inferiority. This also has the tendency to make the situation awkward for the giver, as they don’t want to cause the recipient embarrassment.
But here, as we head into the final verses of Philippians, Paul shows us how to navigate this delicate situation. In this verse, Paul expresses genuine and affectionate gratitude toward the Philippians (“But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly”). The apostle is rejoicing in the Lord again—the overarching theme of this book. And this time, it’s in regards to the generosity of the Philippians, for which he felt so much gratitude. You see, even though the gift had come from the believers at Philippi, the apostle saw the Lord Jesus as the true source of it. He knew that apart from the work of Jesus in their hearts, the Philippians would not have been so deeply moved and compelled to give. And his rejoicing in Jesus’ work in and through them was the expression of his kindness.
If you notice, Paul wrote, “that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity.” Essentially, Paul is stating that, even though he knew they had long wanted to send their gift, they finally had the opportunity. Thus, he acknowledged their perseverance and dedication. And the reason why he hadn’t received the gift until this moment had nothing to do with neglect, selfishness, or inattention on their part. It was because they encountered difficulty communicating with him and finding a way to actually get the gift to him due to his present situation and the considerable distance between Rome and Philippi.
But now that they finally had the opportunity with Epaphroditus traveling to Rome, their generosity “flourished again.” This was a word (anethalete) commonly used when referring to the blossoming of plants or flowers. It means to grow green again; to spring up again; to be revived. So, Paul is telling us that giving springs something up in us, it grows into something beautiful in our hearts: the compassion and kindness of Jesus!
1. Reviewing the letter to the Philippians, in what ways do you see the church in Phillipi supporting Paul in his ministry?
2. Generosity happens when kindness meets opportunity. Where or how do you see generosity expressed in your own life?