Question:

Question

Answer:

In an attempt to justify the church using money out of its treasury to send flowers to sick or bereaved members, an argument has been made that it is a "gift" meant to encourage, like the gifts sent to Paul in Philippians 4:15-19.  In comments I have read in discussions and debates, it seems as if all participants understood the "flower fund" to be an individual (and not a collective) responsibility. Isn't that the rationale of having a "flower fund" in the first place? To keep it separate from the church treasury?


"Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only. For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account. Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God. And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:15-19).

The Philippians were not involved in sending flowers to Paul to uplift his spirits. They were sending funds to finance his ministry in other areas of the world. "I robbed other churches, taking wages from them to minister to you. And when I was present with you, and in need, I was a burden to no one, for what I lacked the brethren who came from Macedonia supplied. And in everything I kept myself from being burdensome to you, and so I will keep myself" (II Corinthians 11:8-9). While their help was an encouragement to Paul, the Greek word doma, which is translated "gift," means just that an present that Paul did not earn by giving the Philippians something in return.

It is a responsibility of the church to finance the teaching of the Gospel. "Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel" (I Corinthians 9:14). What has not been established is the church's responsibility to make someone feel nicer by sending flowers.

It is good that brethren, individually or in groups, wish to cheer their brothers and sisters. But they cannot offload their desire on the church and make it financially responsible. I would be hard press to locate a verse that would even require individuals to send flowers, let alone the church. The Scriptures teach that we should "Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep" (Romans 12:15), but that is a shared time together and not a remote token of sympathy.

Flowers are nice. They are considered a polite expression of "thinking of you" in American society, but let us be careful not to consider them a requirement of Christianity.


See Also:

Questions and Answers regarding the Use of the Lord's Money
Questions and Answers regarding the Church
Questions and Answers regarding Benevolence