“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19
Paul’s letter to the Philippians is a thank you note for their financial gift in support of his ministry. He opens the letter by thanking them for their “partnership in the gospel” (1:5) and closes by thanking them for their “full payment, and more” (4:18). He commends their gifts, which he describes as “a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God” (4:18). In order to remind them that God blesses such generosity, he assures them that God will provide for all their needs out of his abundant riches in Christ Jesus (4:19). Our God is willing and able to provide everything that we need in order to serve Jesus.
Sometimes we have trouble distinguishing between what we want and what we need. Living in our prosperous society, we have the bad habit of speaking about our wants as if they were needs. We speak of needing cars, cell phones, televisions, and many other things that are not needs in the truest sense of the term. Sometimes we may use Matthew 6:33 as proof text for our confusion. Jesus promised us that he will provide for “all these things” as we seek first his kingdom and righteousness (Matthew 6:33), but we must remember that in context “all these things” refers to food and clothing (Matthew 6:25), not anything and everything we want. The Apostle Paul would later write, “But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content” (1 Timothy 6:8). Of course, we all hunger for far more than the bare necessities; yet we should remember how God in his Word defines a true need: something that is necessary for a life of service to Jesus.
God does not promise to provide for all our wants, but he does promise to provide for our needs in Christ Jesus. One of the things that we learn form this is that Jesus Christ is really all that we need. This may seem like some super-spiritual platitude, but it really is the gospel truth. Our sufficiency is found in Christ alone, not earthly privileges and possessions. We have been “filled in him” (Colossians 2:10) and need nothing besides him. God reminds us in Psalm 84:11, “For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.” This is an important verse. Unbelief begins with human experience and reads it into the Bible’s promises. Unbelief says, “My experience teaches me that it is a good thing for me to have this blessing. Therefore, God has promised this blessing to me.” However, this is not the way of faith. Faith does not begin with human experience and read it into the Bible’s promises; faith begins with the Bible’s promises and reads human experiences in light of them. Faith says, “My Bible promises me that God will not withhold any good thing from the one who walks uprightly. If I do not receive the blessing of what I think is good, then it must not be good.” Faith says, “If I do not have it, then I do not need it.”
Here’s the lesson. God defines our needs. God defines what is good for us. We must learn to trust him for what he thinks we need and for what he thinks is best for us. His timing may not be our timing. His provision may not be according to our liking. Yet he is wise, powerful, and good, and we can never go astray as long as we trust him. Is there something in your life that you think that you need? Is there something in your life that you think would be good for you? Let me encourage you to do two things. First, trust God to supply your need. Second, let God define your need. If you need it, then he will supply it. If you do not receive it, then you never needed it. Get busy serving Jesus and trust God to give you what you need to honor him!