by Barry Newton
A popular misunderstanding of grace and faith over-reacting to a works-based salvation appears to be the primary culprit behind relegating a clear and powerful teaching of Jesus and Paul into near obscurity. Our demonstrations of love do influence our future inheritance.
Jesus bluntly proclaimed, “Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide yourselves purses that do not wear out — a treasure in heaven that never decreases” (Luke 12:33 NET). Paul echoed the Son of God’s pronouncement with, “Tell them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, to be generous givers, sharing with others. In this way they will save up a treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the future and so lay hold of what is truly life” (1 Timothy 6:18,19 NET).
Mixing the metaphors of a bank ledger and fruit trees, the Philippian letter reveals Paul’s deep yearning to clarify in practical terms how his friends needed to live in their present situation to be prepared for Christ’s return. They should produce fruit and make deposits.
Beginning with his opening prayer, Paul had identified the essential key for empowering fruitful investments. An abounding love would cause them to be blameless on the day of Christ as those filled with the fruit of righteousness coming through Jesus.
As this friendly letter exhorting Christians to embrace the mind of Christ draws to an end, Paul rejoiced over the heavenly deposit his Christian friends had made when they seized the opportunity to demonstrate loving concern (Philippians 4:10). Paul literally described their gift of love as, “the fruit that increases into your account” (Philippians 4:17).
God loves to see his children producing such fruitful deposits. In Paul’s words they constitute “a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, very pleasing to God” (Philippians 4:18, NET). What’s more, it would be God, not imprisoned Paul, whose friendship would reciprocate by supplying all of their needs through the glorious riches in Christ (Philippians 4:19).
How are we doing with our deposits?