The Grace of Giving

August 23, 2020 ()

Bible Text: Philippians 4:10-23 |


The Grace of Giving | Philippians 4:10-23
Brian Hedges | August 23, 2020

Let me invite you to turn in your Bibles this morning to Philippians 4. We’re going to be reading in just a moment verses 10-23. As you’re turning there, let me tell you a story about Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Spurgeon was not only the greatest preacher of the 19th century, but he was also a great philanthropist. He was a man who had a great heart of compassion and love for people in need. He started all kinds of compassion-type organizations, charities, and so on, including an orphanage. He was known to often come to his church, and especially to his deacons, and to solicit funds to ask for money so that he could meet particular needs.

The story goes that one time his deacon team got tired of being asked so often, so they conspired together that the next time Spurgeon took an offering none of them were going to give a shilling. Sure enough, the day came when Spurgeon had yet another need that he wanted to be met, and he pulled the deacons together in a meeting, and he took an offering. The way he would do it was take his hat off and he’d pass his hat around for each person to contribute their offering.

The hat came back to him; not one person gave anything. The hat came back to him empty. Spurgeon, who was humorous and had a very sharp wit, didn’t miss a beat. He bowed in prayer and he said, “Father, I’m thankful to get my hat back from these greedy rascals”! Then he passed the hat around again a second time, and they gave a good offering.

I want you to know that the apostle Paul did not feel that way about the Philippian church, and I want you to know that I don’t feel that about Redeemer Church. I’ve been amazed at the generosity of this church, especially over the last year to 18 months, as you’ve just continued to give in such uncertain times. In fact, you’ve given above and beyond. We’re way ahead of our budget this year; we’ve been able to hire staff that we weren’t expecting to this year. The Lord has just blessed so abundantly, so I’m thankful to him and I’m thankful to you.

I’m going to preach on giving this morning, and it’s not because the church is in any kind of financial stress, it’s not because I’m desperate for people to give more. The reason is because this is the next passage in our exposition through a book. It’s one of the great advantages of expository preaching, that you preach the next passage and no one has to wonder if you have a hidden agenda. There really is not a hidden agenda. Nevertheless, this is God’s word for us today, and I believe this passage has some very important things to teach us about giving that I hope the Lord will use in each one of our hearts.

We’re coming now to the end of this series. For over four months now we’ve been working verse by verse and paragraph by paragraph through Paul’s great letter to the Philippians, and today we come to the very end, the very last paragraph of this chapter, of this book. In this paragraph, many of the themes that we’ve looked at—themes such as having a certain mentality, a certain mindset, and the theme of friendship and partnership—these themes come together in kind of a crescendo in this final section of the book.

But really, Paul is wrapping up his letter, and he is expressing his gratitude to the Philippian church for their partnership with him by giving to meet financial needs. That’s the purpose of really this letter, and certainly what comes into focus here in verse 10-23.

I’m going to begin by reading the passage. I’ll remind you we’ve already looked at verses 10-13 last week, but I want to pick up in verse 10 to kind of get the full context, and we’re going to read through verse 23. Then I want you to see five important truths about generosity that we learn from this passage. Let’s read it first, Philippians 4, beginning in verse 10. Paul says,

“I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen. Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me greet you. All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar's household. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.”

This is God’s word.

The apostle Paul writes from a prison in Rome, sending this letter, which is full of gratitude and thanks, to perhaps Paul’s dearest friends, the Philippian church, this church which had partnered with him for a decade in ministry and had now just sent him another gift by the hands of Epaphroditus.

In this passage, we learn five very important truths about generosity, about giving, and I want to point out each one of these to you. As I do, I hope that you will follow along in your Bibles and that you will pray as we work through the passage, pray that the Lord will do a fresh work in your own heart when it comes to giving, not because Redeemer Church needs it, but because you and I need it, and because, as we’ll see, it gives glory to the Lord.

1. Giving Expresses the Mindset of Christ

Truth number one is this: Giving expresses the mindset of Christ. Look at verse 10, and I’m going to tell you to underline two words. “I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern [underline that word] for me. You were indeed concerned [again, underline it] for me, but you had no opportunity.”

That word “concern” is an important word, and it’s a word that we’ve come across again and again and again in the letter to the Philippians, but it’s a little bit masked by the translation. This is the word that is translated in other parts of the letter as “mind” or “mindset.” It’s related to that same word group, the phroneo word group.

Matt Harmon in his commentary says, “This verb refers to the shared mindset and outlook on life that believers should have in common with Christ.” You remember that Paul has exhorted the Philippian church to embrace this mindset, this mentality, again and again. We especially saw this in Philippians 2, where he calls them to have the same mind in Christ, and then he points them to the example of Christ himself.

In Philippians 2:3-8 (I’ll read it again, though these are familiar words to you), he says, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others as more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus…” and then he goes on to describe this mindset of Christ Jesus. “...who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” That’s the mindset. It’s the mindset of humility, of servanthood, of counting the interest of others as more important than your own interest.

When Paul here says that “you have revived your concern for me,” and, “You were indeed concerned for me,” he is affirming them, and he is saying, “You have had this mindset towards me.”

In fact, he began the letter by expressing how this was his mindset towards them. You have this in chapter 1:7, where he says, “Just as it is right for me to be concerned for you,” or you might translate it, “to have this mindset about you all,” and now he wraps up the letter by affirming their mindset towards him. The very things that he’s been exhorting them to embrace in their attitudes towards one another—servanthood and humility and caring for one another—he now affirms that “this has been your attitude towards me, and it’s been demonstrated through your giving.” Giving expresses the mindset of Christ.

One of the things this means is that as you give, as you develop a lifestyle of generosity, you are becoming more and more like Jesus. Listen, the most Christlike people in the world are generous people. Those who imitate Christ give generously.

Listen to these words from Benjamin Warfield. Benjamin Warfield was that great early-20th-century Princeton theologian. This was before Princeton went liberal theologically; it was back when Princeton was still a bastion of Christian orthodoxy. B.B. Warfield was one of the greatest theologians in the early 20th century.

In a sermon on Philippians 2, he draws the connections between Christ’s love and our giving. The sermon was called “Imitating the Incarnation.” This is what he said. “He was led by his love for others into the world to forget himself in the needs of others. Self-sacrifice means not indifference to our times and our fellows; it means absorption in them. It means forgetfulness of self in others. It means entering into every man’s hopes and fears, longings and despairs. Oh my dear Christians!” he said, “If you would be like Christ, give much, give often, give freely to the vile and poor, the thankless and the undeserving. Christ is glorious and happy, and so will you be. It is not your money I want, but your happiness. Remember his own word, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

Giving expresses the mindset of Christ. Giving is a part of our Christlikeness, it’s part of our growth in Christlikeness, and if you want to imitate the Savior, if you want to be like Jesus, you will seek to grow in generosity.

2. Giving Demonstrates the Fellowship of the Gospel

Number two, giving demonstrates the fellowship of the gospel. Look at verses 14-16. Paul says, “Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble.” Underline that word “share.” “And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel [that means when the gospel first began to be preached], when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership [underline that word] with me in giving and receiving except you only. Even in Thessalonica, you sent me help for my needs once and again.”

The word “share” and the word “partnership”—and, again, these are words that are related to other key words that we’ve noticed through this study. One of the key words in the book of Philippians is the word “fellowship” or “partnership,” and the different translations translate it different ways. But here you have a verb, “share my trouble,” but it’s related to this word. The word is koinonia, the word that we’ve highlighted many times in this series.

You remember how Paul began his letter by giving thanks to the Philippians in all of his prayers for them because of their partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. What was that partnership? Well, it was their friendship, it was their fellowship that they had in the gospel, but it was more than that; it was also a financial partnership. In fact, the Philippian church, because Paul says here in verse 15 that when he left Macedonia they were the only church that entered into a partnership with him in giving and receiving, because of those words we can be almost certain that this is the very church that Paul refers to in 2 Corinthians 8, which is that great chapter on giving in Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, where he talks about the Macedonian believers and how they gave.

Do you remember these words? Let me read just a few verses from 2 Corinthians 8. He says, “We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that was given among the churches of Macedonia. For in a severe test of affliction their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own free will, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints, and this not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord, and then by the will of God to us.”

There are so many things to notice there about this church that entered into partnership with Paul. They gave with joy—it wasn’t begrudging. “God loves a cheerful giver.” They gave joyfully, but they gave even in their extreme poverty. In fact, Paul says they “begged us for the opportunity.”

You know, I’ve mentioned in the last couple of weeks that my grandfather recently passed away, and I think I said the first Sunday I announced that that he was the most generous man I’ve ever known. This was something that others pointed out as well, but I think it’s certainly true. My grandfather had a way, when he gave a gift to someone, he had a way of making you feel like you were doing him a favor to let him give the gift. If you were receiving a gift from him, he made you feel like you were doing him a favor if you would let him give. That’s the kind of man he was.

I think that’s the kind of people the Philippians were. They begged for the opportunity to give. They wanted to give so deeply. They were so committed to giving, and it was a special partnership that they had with the apostle Paul.

Listen, you and I need to think about our own lives and our partnership with others in the gospel. There are several ways to apply this. Obviously, one level is the local church, and it’s important for us to give to our local church. You do that. You do that generously, you do that faithfully, so thank you. I’m grateful for that.

We should also think about giving in partnership with missionaries. Think about the missionaries that you support. Think about parachurch ministries that are doing really targeted kinds of work in maybe cities or on campuses or other kinds of areas. Think about relief kinds of work, where we’re seeking to relieve poverty and hunger and those kinds of things.

These kinds of things, when done in the name of Christ with a solid commitment to the gospel, form part of our gospel partnership with others, and giving is an essential part of that partnership and demonstrates that partnership. All of us should be thinking about what kind of partnerships we’ve formed. Do we have gospel friendships, and do those friendships include the element of giving in order to support the work of the gospel?

3. Giving Is a Fruit of Spiritual Growth

Giving expresses the mindset of Christ, giving demonstrates the fellowship of the gospel, and then number three, giving is a fruit of spiritual growth. You see this in verse 17. Paul says, “Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit.”

Paul just amazes me. This is just an amazing man. He’s in prison, and he’s received a gift that no doubt is going to help him—I mean, this is probably just helping him survive. It’s probably giving him just enough money to live on, so that he has food and basic clothing. He’s in prison, and he says, “Thank you for the gift, but I wasn’t seeking the gift, I was seeking fruit for you.” He just goes out of his way, again and again, to say, “I wasn’t after your money! I’ve learned in whatever state I am to be content.” He wasn’t after the money! What was he after? He was after their fruit. He wanted fruit in their lives.

In fact, this recalls the prayer, doesn’t it, of chapter 1:9-11, when he says that “it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” What’s the fruit of righteousness? Well, at least a part of the fruit of righteousness is generosity. It’s a giving heart, it’s a willingness to give.

Then, notice Paul says here “fruit that abounds to your credit.” The commentaries tell us that when the word “fruit” is connected with financial language—you have agricultural language (fruit) and financial language (credit)—when that’s combined, that word “fruit” can mean an advantage or a profit, or even carry the idea of something like compound interest. Okay?

Peter O’Brien in his commentary says, “The picture painted by the accounting metaphor is of compound interest that accumulates all the time, till the last day. The apostle has employed this commercial language to show that he has set his heart on an ongoing, permanent gain for the Philippians in the spiritual realm.”

This is what he wants: he wants fruit, he wants their spiritual growth and their fruit, and he’s looking not just to their temporary benefit, he’s looking to their eternal benefit. Using different language, it’s the same idea that Jesus expressed in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 6, when he says, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Don’t focus on temporary gain, Paul is saying, Jesus is saying. Focus on eternal gain.

Let me give you an illustration that might help just to illustrate the contrast between temporary investment and eternal investment. Many of you know that over the years I’ve taken a number of mission trips to Africa, and if you’ve taken a mission trip you’ve probably had a similar experience. The very first thing you do on a mission trip to a foreign country, when you land in the airport, after you collect your luggage, is you go exchange currency. Every time I’ve gone we’ve done this; we go to the currency exchange and we exchange U.S. dollars for South African rand (when we were in South Africa).

It’s always kind of tricky, because you have to think about, “How much do I need for this trip? I’m going to be here for a week or two weeks or whatever. How much do I need for two weeks of South African rand?” Because, of course, it costs money to make the transfer, to make the exchange, and what you don’t want is to get to the end of your trip and have all of this foreign currency that—you know, if you bring it back to the States it’s not worth much at all, and it’s going to cost money to exchange it back into U.S. dollars.

Can you imagine how ludicrous it would be, if I was going on a mission trip, and I said to Holly, “You know, I think this time I’m just going to liquidate our savings account, and all of the cash that we have, when I get to South Africa—I’m just going to be there ten days, but I’m going to exchange all of it to rand.” What!? I mean, that would just be stupid! Why are you going to exchange all your money for something you’re only going to be able to use for ten days, when you have the rest of your life to think of?

You see, Paul, and Jesus especially, extend our perspective to say, “Don’t just think about this world; think about the next.” Don’t just think about investing in the here and now, laying up treasures on earth, think about eternity, think about laying up treasures in heaven.

Now, I should probably qualify this and just say that of course, when you read everything Scripture says about money, and especially the book of Proverbs, that there is a place for saving for the future, and there is such a thing as wise investment. That can be done with a kingdom kind of orientation. I’m not saying you have to go liquidate your mutual fund or whatever, but what I’m saying is that in the order of priorities and where our hearts are, we should be thinking not mainly about, “How can I save for the future?” we should be thinking mainly about, “How can I lay up treasures in heaven?” The way you lay up treasures in heaven is by giving it away.

Nobody’s put it more clearly and more powerfully than Randy Alcorn in that magnificent little book The Treasure Principle. If you haven’t read it, you should read it. It’s short, and there are four or five copies on the book table. Randy Alcorn said, “Storing up earthly treasures isn’t simply wrong, it’s just plain stupid, because you can’t take it with you, but you can send it on ahead.” Anybody ever see a hearse pulling a U-Haul? No. You can’t take it with you. When you die, it’s all going to be gone. But what you give away, you send on ahead as you invest in eternal things.

That’s fruit. That’s the fruit that Paul has in mind, fruit that abounds to your credit, and this is part of your spiritual growth. Listen, the more we grow spiritually, the more inclined we are going to be to give.

4. Giving Is an Act of Worship

Number four, giving is an act of worship. It’s part of our worship of God. Look at verse 18. “I have received full payment and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent,” and then, notice this, “a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.”

Now, that’s language straight from the Old Testament, from the Old Testament sacrificial system, where, when someone was going to worship God at the tabernacle or at the temple, they would bring an offering, they would bring a sacrifice. That sacrifice would maybe be a grain sacrifice, a cereal offering; maybe it would be a libation poured onto an altar, or maybe it would be a ram or a calf or something like that that was offered. It was burned up and offered to the Lord in fire, and it was said to be a fragrant offering, something that was fragrant to the Lord; that is, something that brought pleasure to the Lord, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.

You know what this teaches us? It teaches us that giving is a part of our worship, and giving pleases the Lord.

Paul uses this kind of language elsewhere. You remember Romans 12:1, where he beseeches us, “by the mercies of God, to present [our] bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God.”

Again, he’s using that language of sacrifice from the Old Testament, but here he’s saying that your giving is a part of that. Your giving is a part of your worship.

It’s with good reason that many churches take a public offering in their corporate worship services. Now, we’re obviously not doing that right now because of social distancing. You don’t have to do that. I don’t think there’s anything in the Bible that says you have to do that, but it’s a helpful thing, because it just reminds us that when we give from the right heart, when we give out of devotion to God, we give for the glory of God, we give in obedience to God, that giving is a part of our worship to God.

Listen, it pleases him. You know what that means? It means it gives God pleasure. It means that it delights the heart of God.

I’m reminded of a story (I didn’t tell this one in the first service, but I’ll share this with you). It was a story of a church that was taking up an offering for a new building, or something like that. It was very public. People were naming, “I’ll give this much money,” and so on. I don’t know why they were doing that; I don’t think churches should do that. But this church was doing that, and someone offered to give this lavish amount of thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars, and everybody applauded and clapped. Then another person stood up and said, “I’ll give this amount,” and it was thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars.

On it went, and it was just kind of a show. But there was a little old widow lady that belonged to that church, and she raised her hand, and she said, “I’ll give ten dollars,” and the room went silent. The pastor said, “Do you hear it? Do you hear it? I think I hear the applause of nail-scarred hands.”

You see, it’s not the amount that you give, it’s the heart with which you give, and it’s giving out of what you have in order to worship the Lord, and the Lord loves when people give. Hebrews 13:16 says, “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” Giving is a part of our worship.

5. Giving Is Enabled by God’s Glory and Grace

Finally, number five, giving is enabled by the riches of God’s glory and grace. Just think for a minute of everything we’ve already seen. We’ve seen the value of generosity in these various ways. It’s a part of our Christ-likeness, our imitation of Jesus, right, as we embrace the mind of Christ. It is a ministry to others as we partner with others in taking the gospel to them; so it helps others. It’s good for us as we invest in eternal things; it’s fruit to our credit, it’s part of our own spiritual development and growth. And it pleases God, it honors God, as it’s a part of our worship to him.

The question is, how do you get the kind of heart that gives? Because listen, I don’t think this is something you can just strong-arm people into doing. I actually don’t know that it’s particularly effective to get a non-giving church to start giving by preaching a sermon on giving. The last thing in the world you ever want is people to give because they feel guilty for not giving. Guilt’s not the right motivation.

What is the motivation? How do you get the kind of heart that is generous so that you want to give, you consider it a blessing to give? The answer is you get it when you see the riches of God’s glory and God’s grace, and that’s exactly what Paul points the Philippians to here at the end of chapter 4. Look at verse 19. He says, “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.”

He ends here with a promise and with a doxology. The promise is in verse 19: “My God will supply every need of yours.” What does that mean? Remember who’s writing it. Paul’s writing it in prison. Do you think Paul writes this in prison and says, “My God will supply every need of yours, but he hasn’t supplied mine, because here I am in this stinking jail cell”? No. That’s not the way Paul thinks. Paul has already said, “I’m content. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, including being in hunger and being in want and being in need.”

So, what does it mean that God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus? Well, it doesn’t mean health, wealth, and prosperity. It doesn’t mean that everything on your Christmas list is necessarily going to be given. It means that God will give you everything you need to be faithful to him, to honor him, to worship him, to love him, to be satisfied and content in him. That’s what it means, but it’s a wonderful promise, because it’s a promise of God’s sufficiency.

I want you to notice here how Paul describes this promise. The commentaries, again, point out the prepositional phrases. “My God will supply every need of yours according to his riches…” Notice it’s “according to,” not just “out of.” Listen, if Bill Gates were to write a ten-dollar check to Redeemer Church, he would be giving out of his riches, but he wouldn’t be giving according to his riches. If he were to write a one-million-dollar check to Redeemer Church, that would be according to his riches. Paul here says, “God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in Christ Jesus.” The measure, the manner in which he gives is according to his infinite riches—in glory.

There’s the second phrase, “in glory.” What are the riches that God has? Obviously, it includes his ability to meet any financial need, but it’s so much more than that. What does God want to give you? He wants to give you a sight of his glory. He wants to show you the most valuable thing in the universe, which is the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. He meets our needs in order to lead us along so that we will increasingly see more of his glory. That’s what our sanctification is, isn’t it? As we behold the glory of the Lord, we are changed, we are transformed.

He gives according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. There’s the sphere in which he gives. He gives in and through Christ. It’s because of Christ, because of what Christ has done.

Paul states this wonderful doxology in verse 20. “To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen,” and then greetings in verses 21-22. I love the way he ends the letter: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.”

What’s the secret to being a generous person? It is to have a sight of the riches of the glory and the grace of God given to us in Christ. It’s the the gospel, it’s understanding the gospel. It’s the gospel penetrating so deeply into our hearts that we are wowed, we are blown over, we are stunned in our tracks with the sight of this beautiful God, who is so glorious and so majestic, and at the same time he is so giving and so generous, so much so that Christ gave himself for us.

Again, 2 Corinthians 8:9, “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 by his poverty might become rich.” The incarnation of Christ and the cross of Christ, what was it? It was an exchange. It was this exchange; an exchange of his riches for our poverty, his glory for our shame, his majesty for our misery, his righteousness for our sins, his power for our weakness, his fellowship with the Father for the estrangement of the cross, his life for our death.

We gain because he gave, and when that grips your heart, when that changes your life, when you see the beauty of this one who gave everything for you, the only appropriate response is to turn around and give our lives back to him, and then give generously to others as we imitate him.

Let me ask you this morning, how is your generosity? How is your life of giving? Again, it’s not because Redeemer Church needs more. If you give it, we’ll find ways to put it to good use for the good of the church and for the expansion of the kingdom and for the good of others. But how’s your giving when it relates to you, when it relates to your worship, your devotion to God?

If you feel convicted this morning, as honestly I’ve felt convicted preparing the sermon—if you felt convicted this morning, then here’s what you need. You need to go back to square one. Go back to the gospel and just focus on Christ until your heart begins to thaw; the coldness begins to thaw, your heart begins to melt, and you begin to see once again the dying love of the Savior, who loved you so much you’d give everything.

When that grips you, you won’t be able to resist the impulse to give to others. Let’s pray together.

Heavenly Father, we thank you for this challenging word in this beautiful book, the book of Philippians. We thank you for what we’ve learned in this series together and for what we learned from your word this morning. Lord, it is convicting. It exposes the hearts we have that are so prone to grasp for things and for security, to look to our circumstances for our satisfaction, to find contentment in the things of this world instead of in eternal things.

Lord, we need (some of us more than others) to be challenged on this. We need to see the reality of our selfishness, and how it contrasts with the selflessness of your Son, the Lord Jesus. My prayer this morning, Lord, is that none of us would just walk away with guilt feelings—that’s not the goal—but that we would be deeply, deeply compelled by the love of Christ, by the grace of Christ, by the cross of Christ; that we would be deeply compelled to become more generous people, because we want to be like him. So, Lord, would you just open our eyes this morning to the beauty and glory of who you are, the beauty and glory of your Son. May your Spirit work in us that which is pleasing in your sight. Change us where we need to be changed; transform us, Lord, in our very hearts. Do it by your Spirit through the ministry of your word.

As we come to the table this morning, may we come remembering that we come to receive. The Lord is the one who has set this table; we come to receive, we come to partake, and it’s a reminder to us of the self-giving of Christ, it’s a reminder of the gospel. So may we come with our eyes on Jesus and with hearts full of worship. Lord, we look to you right now; please draw near to us as we continue in worship through song and at the table. We pray in Jesus’ name and for his sake, Amen.