Stewardship of Concern

Steve Viars November 5, 2017 Philippians 4:10-23
Outline

2 Corinthians 11:28 - Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches.

2 Corinthians 11:29 - Who is weak without my being weak? Who is led into sin without my intense concern?

Acts 20:37-38 - And they began to weep aloud and embraced Paul, and repeatedly kissed him, grieving especially over the word which he had spoken, that they would not see his face again…

2 Corinthians 8:1-9 - Now, brethren, we wish to make known to you the grace of God which has been given in the churches of Macedonia, that in a great ordeal of affliction their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality. For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability, they gave of their own accord, begging us with much urging for the favor of participation in the support of the saints, and this, not as we had expected, but they first gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the will of God. So we urged Titus that as he had previously made a beginning, so he would also complete in you this gracious work as well. But just as you abound in everything, in faith and utterance and knowledge and in all earnestness and in the love we inspired in you, see that you abound in this gracious work also. I am not speaking this as a command, but as proving through the earnestness of others the sincerity of your love also. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.

Philippians 4:10 - But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly…

6 reasons sacrificial giving is a cause for great rejoicing

I. Because it Demonstrates Your God-Given Concern and Love for Others

Philippians 4:10 - But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me…

A. Meaning of “concern”

Philippians 2:5 - Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus…

Vincent’s Word Studies – “You caused your thinking on my behalf to bloom anew…”; “You revived your thought for me” (p. 459).

B. They caused it to flourish again

Ezekiel 17:24 - All the trees of the field will know that I am the Lord; I bring down the high tree, exalt the low tree, dry up the green tree and make the dry tree flourish. I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will perform it.”

Philippians 4:10 - …indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity.

“God in His providence had caused the church at Philippi to become concerned about Paul’s needs, and it came at the very time Paul needed their love most.  They had been concerned, but they lacked the opportunity to help.  Many Christians today have the opportunities, but they lack the concern” (Wiersbe, p. 97).

C. In the context of what had already been said about Timothy

Philippians 2:19-20 - But I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, so that I also may be encouraged when I learn of your condition. For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare.

2 Corinthians 8:8 - …the sincerity of your love.

D. Which made Paul rejoice “in the Lord”

Philippians 1:6 - For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

Philippians 2:12-13 - So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

II. Because You Do Well to Share in Someone Else’s Affliction

Philippians 4:14 - Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction.

A. Mary of Bethany in Mark 14:6

Mark 14:6 - But Jesus said, “Let her alone; why do you bother her? She has done a good deed to Me.

B. When you are concerned about other’s afflictions

Philippians 4:14 - Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction.

2 Corinthians 1:4 - …who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

C. Part and parcel of what it means to be a good steward

Matthew 25:21 - His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.”

The Four Factors of Stewardship

1. God owns everything – you own nothing.

2. God entrusts you with everything you have.

3. You can either increase or diminish what God has entrusted to you, God wants you to increase it.

4. God can call you into account at any time, and it may be today.

D. As a habit of life

Philippians 4:16 - …for even in Thessalonica you sent a gift more than once for my needs.

Matthew 6:19-20 - Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal…

III. Because of the Impact It Will Have on the Giver

Philippians 4:17 - Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your account.

Malachi 3:10 - “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.

Matthew 6:21 - …for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

3 John 4 - I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.

IV. Because of the Impact This Has on the Lord

Philippians 4:18 - But I have received everything in full and have an abundance; I am amply supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you have sent, a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God.

V. Because of the Position of Dependence in Which We Place Ourselves

Philippians 4:19 - And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

VI. Because of the Joy of Participating in Others Coming to Christ

Philippians 1:5 - …in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now.

Philippians 1:7 - For it is only right for me to feel this way about you all, because I have you in my heart, since both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers of grace with me.

Philippians 4:22 - All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household. 

- One of the many characteristics I love about our church family is the way so many people show concern for others in time of need…naturally, authentically, almost automatically…

- and I’m sure there’s many examples of which I’m not even aware…which is another trait that is equally delightful…

­- people acting on their concern quietly and behind the scenes…

- but whenever I come across a story like that, it’s like taking a bite out of a juicy piece of fresh fruit…

- this is Anita Burkhalter…one of the widows in our church and member of the Sonrise Adult Bible Fellowship…

- she became concerned when she saw pictures of girls at the orphanage in Santiago, Dominican Republic and wondered if they would enjoy a dress made personally for them at Christmastime…

- so she contacted the director of orphanage who provided specific sizes for 22 young girls…and Anita got down to work…

- some others have joined in the task and they’re now waiting for more sizes so every young lady can have one…

- they hope to have all of the dresses completed in time so that our team that is going on a mission trip to the DR in December can deliver the presents for Christmas…

- imagine how challenging it would be to live in an orphanage at Christmas…and what it would be like to receive a beautiful personalized gift made just for you…

- our own Pastor Newton Pena sees this as part of the birth of a new missionary movement – doing missions at home…

- and what I like about this story is that no one asked Anita to do this…she just cultivated a heart of concern and then did something to meet the need….

- that’s the hands and feet of Jesus at work…it’s the Stewardship of Concern

- with that in mind, let me invite you to open your Bible to Philippians chapter 4…page 156 of the back section of the Bible under the chair in front of you…

- a few weeks ago we were studying the life of John Bunyan, the author of the famous allegory Pilgrim’s Progress…

- in that message we studied the book of 2 Corinthians, chapters 1 and 4…which is a book where Paul opened his heart wide about some of the challenges and afflictions that went with being an apostle…

- and after rehearsing a long list of being beaten with rods, and being shipwrecked. And dangers from rivers, and dangers from robbers and on and on…he then said this…

- 2 Corinthians 11:28 - Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches.

- just like Anita and her concern for dresses for little girls without parents to care for and love them…

- Paul cultivated the daily pressure of concern for all the churches…

- when you back up and think about that – what an incredible example of the transformational power of the gospel…because if you know Paul’s story…he wasn’t always concerned about all the churches, was he?

- no, he went from being a persecutor of the church…to a lover of the church…someone who had a deep and abiding concern for her welfare…which is why he went on to say…

- 2 Corinthians 11:29 - Who is weak without my being weak? Who is led into sin without my intense concern?

- that’s the kind of focus Jesus wants to develop in the lives and hearts of those who follow Him…

- the result of that was how many churches, in turn, cared for him…

- for example, when he was leaving Ephesus after serving the young churches there for nearly 3 years…Scripture tells us that Acts 20:37–38 - And they began to weep aloud and embraced Paul, and repeatedly kissed him, grieving especially over the word which he had spoken, that they would not see his face again…

- showing concern is contagious and it is a beautiful thing…

- some of those young churches showed their concern by the way they handled their finances…so much so that they could be held up as a positive example to others…

- if you know the book of 2 Corinthians…you know that sandwiched in between the discussion of the comfort that can be given in times of affliction in chapter 1 and 4…

- and Paul’s discussion of his concern for the churches in chapter 11…

- is a delightful story of a baby church who heard about Jewish Christians in Jerusalem experiencing famine…

- and you know what they did?...the same thing Anita Burkhalter did with her dressmaking…the same thing Paul did in 2 Corinthians 11…

- this baby church of Gentile Christians…cultivated concern for their Jewish brothers and sisters…and then they acted on it by receiving a love offering and sending it to people they had never met…

- and Paul talks about that in the middle of 2 Corinthians…let me read the verses…2 Corinthians 8:1–9 - Now, brethren, we wish to make known to you the grace of God which has been given in the churches of Macedonia, that in a great ordeal of affliction their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality. For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability, they gave of their own accord, begging us with much urging for the favor of participation in the support of the saints, and this, not as we had expected, but they first gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the will of God. So we urged Titus that as he had previously made a beginning, so he would also complete in you this gracious work as well. But just as you abound in everything, in faith and utterance and knowledge and in all earnestness and in the love we inspired in you, see that you abound in this gracious work also. I am not speaking this as a command, but as proving through the earnestness of others the sincerity of your love also. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.

- so the churches in Macedonia cultivated and acted on their concern for others in such a powerful and tangible way that they could be used as a positive example to the believers in Corinth…[just like Anita, just like Anita, just like…Jesus]…

- well, who were these churches in Macedonia?...what book did I ask you to turn to a minute ago?...the book of Philippians…one of the churches of Macedonia…written about 10 years after this love offering had been taken for the Jewish Christians who were suffering…

- well, why was the book of Philippians written?...because these dear people were at it again…cultivating and acting on their concern…this time…to the apostle Paul…the book of Philippians is a thank you letter…let’s listen in…

- read Philippians 4:10-23

- we’re talking this morning about The Stewardship of Concern

- Paul began this section by saying -- Philippians 4:10 - But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly…

- let’s work our way through this passage and find 6 reasons sacrificial giving is a cause for great rejoicing.

- now you may have noticed that Paul was being very careful here…the passage reads like a man experienced in being misunderstood and misrepresented…

- so there’s a fair amount of – now I don’t mean “this” or I don’t mean “that”…

- and so there are two very clear perspectives being given…

- what can be learned from the Philippians and their generous giving…

- and what can be learned from Paul and his contented lifestyle…

- we’re going to focus on the first half of that in our time this am…but we could come back at another time and examine the second half and derive tremendous benefit as well…[repeat proposition…]

I. Because it Demonstrates Your God-Given Concern and Love for Others.

- Philippians 4:10 - But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me…

- now, what does that mean?

A. Meaning of “concern.”

- the word literally means “thinking”…[FE only] which fits right into what Pastor Green studied with us last week from the first half of the chapter on the Stewardship of our thoughts…

- whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure…think on these things…

- the book itself places tremendous emphasis on our minds…like in…Philippians 2:5 - Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus…

- there were several different words used for mind and thinking in the language in which the NT was originally written…

- but one of them is the basis for the word concern…so you have one writer who translated this verse – Vincent’s Word Studies – “You caused your thinking on my behalf to bloom anew…”, “You revived your thought for me” (p. 459).

- see that’s what Anita did – she chose to think about the affliction of the children in the DR, that’s what Paul did – he chose to think about the care of the churches…

- and that’s what the Philippians did…they thought about the hardships Paul was facing while in prison for proclaiming the gospel…

- now you might wonder about that phrase…

B. They caused it to flourish again.

- that verb is only used here in the NT but it is used in a couple of places in the Greek translation of the Hebrew OT…places like…

- Ezekiel 17:24 - All the trees of the field will know that I am the Lord; I bring down the high tree, exalt the low tree, dry up the green tree and make the dry tree flourish. I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will perform it.

- now you might say – why did the Philippians stop supporting Paul?...and Paul makes it clear – it’s like he’s walking through a minefield here trying to be sure he doesn’t needlessly offend anyone…Philippians 4:10 - …indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity.

- and that statement isn’t specifically explained…but getting money to Paul in jail wasn’t as convenient or achievable as it might be for you and me…(just wire it…)

- and it may have been that now because one of their own members, a man named Epaphroditus was able to make the trip – that they finally had the opportunity to act on their concern by sending him a love offering to share in his afflictions and lighten his load…

- Bible teacher Warren Wiersbe quipped – “God in His providence had caused the church at Philippi to become concerned about Paul’s needs, and it came at the very time Paul needed their love most.  They had been concerned, but they lacked the opportunity to help.  Many Christians today have the opportunities, but they lack the concern” (Wiersbe, p. 97).

- now there are a couple of very important teaching points already from what we’ve seen…

- being a steward of concern is something you start and cultivate in your mind…

- and even if for some reason that hasn’t been part of the way you have lived for a period of time…it can be revived, it can be caused to flourish again…

- now another piece of this that is very important is that this statement is made…

C. In the context of what had already been said Timothy

- Paul told the Philippians back in chapter 2 that he hoped to send Timothy to them shortly – and he made a fascinating observation about Timothy…please listen carefully…

- Philippians 2:19–20 - But I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, so that I also may be encouraged when I learn of your condition. For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare.

- do you see what that adds to this?...Timothy had cultivated this characteristic to the point of it being natural…genuine…

- that’s the same word used back in 2 Corinthians 8:8 – “the sincerity of your love.”

- we’re talking about the kind of concern that isn’t forced, it doesn’t appear out of place…it’s the way that person naturally, genuinely, sincerely chooses to think and live…

- so when the Philippians heard about their Jewish brothers and sisters in a famine….they cultivated and concern and acted on it…when Paul was imprisoned, the same response…

- which made Paul rejoice how?...

D. Which made Paul rejoice “in the Lord.”

- ultimately this story isn’t about the Philippians but about the redemptive power of the Lord Jesus Christ who makes this kind of lifestyle possible…

- and we see that juxtaposition throughout this book…

- Philippians 1:6 - For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

- Philippians 2:12–13 - So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

- so whose concern was this that was being used to relieve the apostle Paul’s sufferings…the concern of God…or the concern of the Philippians?...

- both…and when you factor in how young they were in the Lord, and the position of poverty from which they were operating…this natural, genuine, sincere concern was a delightful thing to behold…

- that’s what the ladies making the dresses want the children in the orphanage to think…look how concerned my God is about me…

- here’s a second reason generous giving is a cause for great rejoicing…

II. Because You Do Well to Share in Someone Else’s Affliction

- Philippians 4:14 - Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction.

- that phrase is also found in the story of…

A. Mary of Bethany in Mark 14:6

- you remember when this dear woman took a vial of costly ointment and anointed Jesus’ head in preparation for His burial…

- and some were self-righteously criticizing her when in fact they were just thieves…

- Jesus said -- Mark 14:6 - But Jesus said, “Let her alone; why do you bother her? She has done a good deed to Me.

- just like the Philippians – they did well…that’s the case…

B. When you are concerned about other’s afflictions

- Paul said… Philippians 4:14 - Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction.

- that is the same word in 2 Corinthians chapter 1 -- 2 Corinthians 1:4 – …who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

- those words could be used to summarize much of our philosophy of ministry...and friend, that’s…

C. Part and parcel of what it means to be a good steward.

- What are the words we want to hear from our Lord and Savior?...

- Matthew 25:21 - His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.”

- with all that I entrusted to you – you have done well as you shared your resources with those in affliction…

- please think about that in light of…

The Four Factors of Stewardship

1. God owns everything – you own nothing.

2. God entrusts you with everything you have.

3. You can either increase or diminish what God has entrusted to you, God wants you to increase it.

- now please push the pause button on that for a minute – increase it how?...

- I am very concerned about some approaches to financial management, even on the part of some Christian writers and speakers…who try to use biblical principles to help people build their own kingdom…and somehow call that stewardship…

- that’s selfishness which breeds a consumptive lifestyle not biblical concern…

- And this idea that “I’ll build my kingdom and then some day I’m really going to do something with it” is the polar opposite of biblical progressive sanctification…

- and the reason so many people around here are generous is because they live in light of this truth…

4. God can call you into account at any time, and it may be today.

- that’s why the Philippians did this…

D. As a habit of life

- Philippians 4:16 - for even in Thessalonica you sent a gift more than once for my needs.

- they weren’t just concerned, they were concerned over and over and over…

- are you allowing the Word of God to do its work this am?...

- you know we didn’t gather together to have a history lesson about what someone did in days gone by?...

- nor is this a museum where our God is dead but we have Him in a jar of formaldehyde and we speak in hushed tones about what He used to do…

- ultimately the question is, where is the evidence of your concern?...

- if we opened your heart and opened your checkbook…would it reveal concern about your things and your kingdom…or would it reveal a concern for the afflictions of others and advancing the plan, purposes, and kingdom of God…

- Jesus made it very clear… Matthew 6:19–20 - Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal;

- the Philippians were able to be an exemplary church because they embraced that principle with all their might…

- that’s what has motivated our church family to adopt our new 5 year ministry plan and corresponding Seeing More Clearly capital campaign…

- we want to do well by sharing in the needs and afflictions of others…

- so our $18M Challenge goal includes additional funding for our Latin America Strategy (describe the conference in Mexico)

- it includes building another duplex so we can double the size of our Restoration Men’s Ministry

- it includes adding new classroom space for our children’s ministries and school elementary classes during the week along with enhanced security during the school day

- and it constructs a brand new state of art community center in the Northend of our town where we can address family homelessness, and racial reconciliation, and programming for seniors and pre-school for low-income children…

- mentoring, jobs training, biblical counseling….

- we want to do well by sharing in other’s afflictions….

- we want to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted of God…

- and there are a lot of people around here who don’t just talk about that….they do it…

- [give a capital campaign update along with instructions of what we are asking people to do…]

- this passage has many other reasons to help us follow the example of the Philippians….

III. Because of the Impact it Will Have on the Giver

- we’re not talking about giving in order to get something from the Lord…

- we reject so-called Heath and Wealth prosperity gospel for all sorts of reasons…

- but on the other hand…this passage could not be clearer…

- Philippians 4:17 - Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your account.

- God blesses generous people, and He blesses generous churches…

- you have a brochure in your bulletin which contains a stewardship commitment card…

- one of our deacons told me once – my wife and decided long ago that we can do better with 90% of our income and God’s blessing than 100% of our income without it

- we’ve also been blessed with several unusual ministries over the years and many of our members give additionally in order to help our church maintain our financial commitment to supporting those efforts…

- but here’s what the Lord told people in the OT…

- Malachi 3:10 - “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.

- that sounds a lot like Phil 4:17…[repeat]

- I’m very thankful that over the years, the majority of the men and women who have called this church their home have taken this privilege and responsibility seriously…and I think what we’re seeing right now is the windows of heaven being opened and blessings being given to us that are overflowing…

- you might say – what might that “profit” look like?...

- a well- directed heart -- Matthew 6:21 - for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

- a mission focused family -- 3 John 4 - I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.

- [they won’t walk in it – unless they see you walking in it…]

IV. Because of the Impact this has on the Lord

- Philippians 4:18 - But I have received everything in full and have an abundance; I am amply supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you have sent, a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God.

- let me show you some pictures…

- this is from the orphanage in Haiti…please notice the “walls” around their meeting room…

- do you know what these pictures are?...their new bathrooms…

- and this picture – the doors for privacy…

- now the children, and especially the young ladies…don’t have to take their showers outside in plain view of evil people who lurk around orphanages waiting for the girls to age out so they can traffic them…

- now they have running water – because of your concern…

- and what do you think the Lord thinks of that?...

- it’s a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God…

- now I realize someone might say – but if I give the way this stewardship brochure and capital campaign commitment is suggesting – then I’d have to depend on the Lord…

- if you’re not giving to that degree…then you’re dishonoring Him…

V. Because of the Position of Dependence in Which We Place Ourselves

- Philippians 4:19 - And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

- it’s possible for Christians, and its possible for churches – to so insure themselves from any kind of risk or uncertainty – that honestly, they don’t need or expect God’s blessing…

- but when we follow the example of Christ…who in chapter 2 Paul explained, emptied Himself…then we put ourselves in a position of dependence on Him…and that’s a marvelous place to be…

VI. Because of the Joy of Participating in Others Coming to Christ

- what was Paul doing in prison?...leading as many people as he could to Christ…

- and the Philippians were participating in that work…

- Philippians 1:5 - in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now.

- Philippians 1:7 - For it is only right for me to feel this way about you all, because I have you in my heart, since both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers of grace with me.

- Philippians 4:22 - All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household.

- often when you’re concerned enough to share in someone’s affliction, you have an opportunity to explain what would motivate your heart to do that…or perhaps better stated, who would motivate your heart to do that…

- [tie to Jake and Chris’ testimony]…

 

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video