Does God Supply All Our Needs?

A MiniStudy of Philippians 4:19

And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

What exactly is this verse saying? Do you think there are some needs God does not meet? Have you ever experienced God’s provision in your life?

This single verse is one that countless Christians have relied on as one of the truly magnificent promises in the whole Bible. But it is merely a “blanket promise?” Or are there “conditions” that need to be met before God honors this promise?

1. A little context

In order to understand the context for this promise, we need go back to verse 10 of this chapter.

I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it.

This verse begins Paul’s conclusion to his letter. Other commentators see Paul as showing his “pastor’s heart” with this section. From this verse, we learn that the Apostle received some sort of gift from the congregation at Philippi. He wrote this letter from prison, probably during his first imprisonment in Rome sometime around AD 60. The Philippians had sent Epaphroditus to Paul with a substantial financial gift and with instructions that he should help Paul with his work (2:25).

The congregation at Philippi had heard about Paul’s imprisonment and wanted to do something for him in a tangible way. It seems like it took a long time for them to decide what to do for the Apostle. Perhaps no messenger had been available, perhaps the church leaders couldn’t decided the best course of action to take, or perhaps it took a long time collect the gifts from the church members. Whatever the reason, Paul acknowledges their concern for him and as soon as it was possible, the church got a substantial gift on the way to Rome. The Greek suggests that Paul believed that the Philippians were genuinely concerned and that he understood the gift would have gotten to him sooner if it had been possible. In other words, Paul believed the best about these people.

Verses 11-13 opens Paul’s soul to the reader like no other verses in his epistles.

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

No doubt Paul was impressed with the extremely generous gift and was grateful to the Philippians. His praise of them had been “exuberant” (Hendriksen). To keep this matter in total perspective, Paul makes it clear why he was so excited about the gift. It was not the relief of his need made Paul rejoice. Indeed, to Paul, the ability to be content in every circumstance represented true riches. Over the years of Paul’s ministry travels, Paul had learned to be “content” with whatever God provided him.

The Greek word translated “content” is autarkes and has no English equivalent. In classic Greek literature this word was used of a river running low. Kent has observed that in Stoic philosophy this word described a person who sat back and passively accepted whatever came his way. This Stoic philosophy is unchristian at its core because is suggests that all the resources needed for coping with life are located within man himself. We know Paul never took this attitude. Verse 13 indicates that Paul knew his sufficiency in Christ is what gave him the contentment. It was Christ who continually poured His strength (Greek, dynamis) into the Apostle, and it was the strength that enabled Paul to face whatever circumstances should come his way.

Despite God’s help, we read this in verse 14:

Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles.

Paul doesn’t want to leave the impression with his friends that he considered their gift superfluous and that he didn’t appreciate it. Quite the contrary, in fact. He considered the gift proof that the Philippians were sharing in, not only his work, but also his sufferings.

Not only was Paul thankful for their present gift, verses 15-16 indicate that the same church had consistently supported Paul from the early days of his ministry.

Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid again and again when I was in need.

While he was in Thessalonica, Paul had to work to support himself. Thessalonica was a prosperous city, yet Paul apparently received little support during his tenure there. The generosity of the Philippians obviously meant a lot to Paul.

But to Paul, the actual gifts were of secondary importance. He was frequently misquoted and misunderstood and his opponents often distorted and used his statements against him. So, Paul uses financial terms in verses 17 and 18,

Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account.I have received full payment and even more; 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.

Literally, verse 17 looks like this: “…not because I seek after the gifts, but I seek after the fruit that abounds to your account.” (Knight). Again, Hendricksen’s obserations are priceless:

The gift was really an investment entered as a credit on the account of the Philippians, an investment which is increasingly paying them rich dividends. These dividends or fruits are the object of Paul’s concern.

What are the fruits of generous giving? Perhaps Paul has in mind things like a clear conscience, an interest in the work of the Gospel, assurance of salvation, increased joy and love for the body of Christ. All of these things are what Paul is wanting the Philippians to enjoy as a result of their generosity toward him and his work.

The best thing Paul can say about the gifts he received from the Philippians is that, even though given to him, they are like a “fragrant offering” and a “sacrifice” to God.

2. Give and it shall be given back, verse 19

That is the context in which we must read verse 19:

And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

The use of “and” is important. This means that verse 19 is not written in a vacuum, but rather its meaning must be understood in connection with what preceded it. Because the Philippians generously met the needs of Paul, God would in turn meet the Philippian’s needs. This verse brings to mind another, from the teachings of our Lord:

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. (Luke 6:38)

Continuing the financial metaphor, we would say that the gifts of the Philippians were like a loan to Paul that he could never hope to pay back. But his God (“my God” is a very tender phrase showing how Paul viewed his relationship with God) would make sure their needs would be taken care of as He repays the loan made to Paul, with interest (Lightfoot).

This a perfect example of the law of reaping and sowing. As believers, we reap what we sow. The Philippians’ generosity did not go unnoticed by either Paul or God. And as they looked after a fellow servant in need, so they too would be looked after, but they would be looked after by God Himself.

God would care for the Philippians “according to His riches,” not according to their need. Since His riches are inexhaustible, there is no need that God cannot meet. However, the loving care promised here is predicated on their efforts to meet the needs of another.

Conclusion

So, does God meet all our needs? The answer is a resounding “yes.” However, how much God helps us depends on how much we help others in the Body of Christ.

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