“But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God.” (Phil. 4:18)
Paul’s letter to the Philippians was really an acknowledgment of a gift which he had received from the believers at Philippi. We are probably safe in assuming that it was a gift of money. The surprising thing is the way in which the apostle magnifies the gift. He calls it “an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God.” In Ephesians 5:2 He uses a similar expression to describe Christ’s great gift of Himself at Calvary. He speaks of it as “an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.” It is breathtaking to think that a gift given to a servant of the Lord should be memorialized with language similar to that which describes the Unspeakable Gift.
J. H. Jowett comments finely on this point. “How vast, then, is the range of an apparently local kindness! We thought we were ministering to a pauper, and in reality we were conversing with the King. We imagined that the fragrance would be shut up in a petty neighborhood, and lo, the sweet aroma steals through the universe. We thought that we were dealing only with Paul, and we find that we were ministering to Paul’s Savior and Lord.” When we understand the true spiritual nature of Christian giving and the vast range of its influence, we are delivered from giving grudgingly or of necessity. We are immune forever to the gimmickry of professional fund-raisers who extort by cajolery, pathos or comedy. We see that giving is a form of priestly service, not a legal enaction. We give because we love, and we love to give.
The truth that my minuscule gifts to the Great God fill the throne room of the universe with fragrance should inspire me to humble worship and hilarious giving. Never again will the offering on Sunday morning be a boring, if necessary, part of the service. It will be as truly a means of giving directly to the Lord Jesus as if He were bodily present. —William MacDonald