No Deposit, No Return
by Thomas Tottleben
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Back when I was just a little guy my friends and I were always interested in making a few extra bucks. One of our cash cows was to round up soda bottles on Saturday mornings and turn them in to the local stores for the deposit money. Scouring the neighborhoods for bottles on our bikes we pretended to be bounty hunters. The bounty? Five cents for every Coca Cola, Pepsi and Vess bottle.
Here's how it worked for those of you who have never had the privilege (yet) of cashing in soda bottles for your income. When someone purchased a bottle of soda pop a five cent deposit was charged on most of the major brands. 'Deposits and returns' are a manufacturer's answer to recycling but it was our ATM machine in the sixties for cold, hard cash.
We not only collected the return but also some praise from the store owners who also received a return on the bottles. God forbid if we brought in one of those no-name soda bottles. If that happened we would hear an automatic recital from the store clerk. "I can't give you any money on this bottle kid, because on this here bottle there is 'no deposit and no return'".
There is another type of deposit described in Phillipians 4:15. The Phillipians made financial deposits into "Paul's Missionary Outreach". Their's was the kind of deposit or offering that would help produce a harvest of souls for hundreds of years and can still be seen today. Now that is what I call a real return from your deposit!
"Now you Phillipians 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" (Phil 4:15).
It was a financial deposit which enabled Paul to go forth and preach the gospel so the Kingdom of God could increase. One of the blessings or returns from this deposit is found in verse 19:
"And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus".
Paul is pronouncing a blessing on those Phillipians who gave of their finances in the offering that enabled him to go forth and preach the gospel of Jesus Christ on his missionary journeys. I believe the blessing in verse 19 also belongs to others since that time who, likewise have made a deposit into other similar, fertile ground ministries.
In my opinion, Phil. 4:19 has become one of the most misused verses in the Bible. Remember when scripture is taken out of context it gives us the mind of man - not God. The mind of man regarding this scripture has made it a tradition for us to believe that anyone can claim this passage for themselves in any circumstance and for any situation where there is a need. Remember that it is 'our tradition that makes the word of God to no effect'.
This may step on some theological toes but I have seen churches establish missions programs and every other kind of program based on this passage. I see Christians everywhere claiming this blessing for themselves when they do not tithe or give offerings. This passage declares a blessing for those Phillipians who made deposits and those of us today who are making deposits into fertile ministries.
If you have been claiming this passage for your needs but you have not been sowing into fertile ministries, I am sorry if I have rearranged the apple cart. Instead of using Philippians 4:19 may I suggest another scripture when standing to get your needs met? It is in Matthew 6:33 where The Master says..."seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."
And one last thing. May you never hear the words, "No deposit, no return" again!
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Your article spoke to my heart. I especially like the very last line...may you never hear