25 January, 2013 Justin Mote
Justin More finishes his series on what is partnership. Part 1
Let me mention two things about such partnership.
1). The motivation for partnership
In Philippians 4:14 Paul tells the church that it ‘was good of you to share in my troubles’. The word ‘share’ is the word for ‘partnership’. Paul was grateful for it. But in verse 17 Paul can write that he was ‘not looking for a gift, but what may be credited to your account’. Paul is saying that giving in partnership is actually receiving. It is topsy-turvy, but when we give in partnership to others it actually does us good!
In verse 18 Paul goes on and says that giving in partnership is true worship. He says of the gifts they have sent; ‘they are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.’ Paul is using the language of Old Testament sacrifices. He is saying that giving in the horizontal plane – from believers to believers – is in fact sacrificial giving to the lord. It is something that pleases Him!
And then in verse 19 Paul says that giving in partnership is totally secure. ‘And my God will supply all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.’ This is a great promise! But we must remember that it comes in the context of a church giving generously in gospel partnership. If we give generously to others we can be sure that the Lord will meet our own needs.
These verses in Philippians 4 should stimulate us to look beyond our own congregations and encourage us to continue our support of other gospel ministries
2). The nature of partnership
Paul expects partnership to be part of the life blood of a local church. He thanks the Philippians that they ‘sent me aid again and again’ (4:16). The Philippian partnership was expressed over a period of time. Indeed in Philippians 1 Paul rejoices in their partnership from ‘the first day until now’ (1:5). He then goes on with confidence that ‘he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.’ In its context the ‘good work’ that Paul is sure that God will continue is most likely to be their partnership with Paul.
Partnership is, therefore, more than just giving single generous gifts to others. It is a lifestyle for our local churches. It is about ongoing, sustained commitment to others. The model for such giving is of course the Lord Jesus himself. The attitude that results in such partnership is the attitude, or mid, of Jesus himself. In chapter 2 Paul pens the famous ‘song of Christ’. Jesus, who had everything made himself nothing. The greatest became the least. Jesus humbled himself leaving glory to become a man, and then to death on a cross. God exalted Jesus to the highest place, giving him the greatest honour, thus showing his commendation of other-person centred action.
Partnership is by definition costly. It arises from an attitude that looks for the best for others before ourselves. But our model for giving in partnership is Jesus himself.