But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God. ~Philippians 4:18
Many years ago, a relief agency by the name of “CARE” branded the idea of “care packages.” The idea of “care packages” refers to packages of food or supplies sent to provide relief or comfort to people in need. Long before this phrase was coined, the Apostle Paul referred to a timely care package he received from people who loved him and looked after his best interest. Let us see why every one of us should participate in the church care package.
We see the planter.
Paul was God’s church planter, sent out from the church at Philippi. His ministry involved the start, planting, and development of churches. He was uniquely gifted by God for this ministry. It was a faith ministry. It was a soulwinning and discipleship ministry. It was a people ministry. There were many risks Paul had to accept as a church planter, and one of them was a financial and livelihood risk. Since he gave himself full-time to the rigor of church planting, he had no guaranteed sources of revenue to sustain him. We must remember that church planting is what churches are called to do. In accordance with this, we have been given the responsibility of making sure our church planters are cared for.
We see the provision.
Paul refers to “the things which were sent from you.” This was probably a combination of money and supplies that the church at Philippi took up to help Paul when he ministered at Thessalonica. This provision was timely: it came when he needed it the most. It was in proportion to the present and ongoing needs Paul had. It was a care package that was sent with love and great consideration of Paul’s needs. We can never provide too much for our church planters and missionaries. Our gifts sustain them so that they do not need to be bi-vocational when they are ministering on the field.
We see the proxy.
Epaphroditus was entrusted in delivering the care package from Philippi to Paul. Why Epaphroditus? First, he was fully financially accountable: this means he could trusted with these goods. Second, as the pastor, he was the highest-ranking authority in the church to deliver it. Third, he loved Paul. He personally wanted to make sure of the delivery and to spend time with Paul when he arrived where Paul was.
We see the praise.
Paul refers to the gift he received as “an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God.” He commends them for their sacrifice, for their thoughtfulness, and, most importantly, that God was pleased with what they did. There was nothing cheap, insignificant, or small about what the Philippian believers did. They took up love offerings once and again. He compared their offering to the sweet smell of a burnt sacrifice. There was dedication and commitment in what they gave to Paul. He praised this church for taking responsibility for his needs over and beyond what he felt he needed.
God has called us into the care package ministry: a ministry that takes financial responsibility for God’s servants who are called out to start and sustain local church plants. Get involved in the faith promise missions giving of the church and in its special offerings for church planters.
Have a care-giving God Morning!
Bible Reading Schedule: 1 Corinthians 15-16