Your concern for me ... a fragrant offering ...
I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account. I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
-Philippians 4:10,14, 17-19 NLT
I love the way that Paul connects concern with offerings. In many churches the phrase "love offering" seems to be way overused. Yet real and actual love for God, his servants and others should always be the banner that we fly as we support people like Paul. Even so, I think that it is very difficult to gain this mindset because of the professional, and sometimes sterile, way that missionaries and others are supported - many of us have never met the ones we support.
In thanking the Philippians for their help Paul makes outrageous claims. He indicates that when they give to him they are actually giving to God. This had to be so different for people with a history where gifts to God were presented on an altar. Paul uses the altar imagery to remind them of the fragrance of the Jewish altar of incense. And lastly he encourages them by saying that, because they have met his needs, God in return will meet their needs.
Help us Lord, in this season of giving, to remember that our gifts should be motivated by a loving concern for others.