Blessed to bless – God will meet all your needs – part 2
There is a wonderful promise that is often quoted in Phil 4:19: “my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” But it can be misleading or dangerous to read little portions of scripture without the context!
The world was created by God with certain life giving principles – seed time and harvest being one of the key ones. It was specifically restored by God after the flood when He made a covenant with Noah (Genesis 8:22). If we give we receive (provided we do not give in order to receive!). It is a spiritual and a natural principle at work in our world. You reap what you sow.
There is a condition to this. In Galatians 6:8 Paul makes clear that if we “sow” (which can be anything we say or do or don’t do) in our own human power it will produce corruption (or go bad). But if we “sow” directed and empowered by the Holy Spirit then it produces a life-giving harvest.
When Paul wrote this wonderful promise to the Philippian church it was in response to their generosity: they had been sowing in accordance with the Holy Spirit. Paul knew this principle at work in his own life.
Yet there is a surprise just a few verses earlier. In Philippians 4:11-13 it is clear that Paul was sometimes (often?) in need but had learned to be content in all circumstances. How could he be in need and in prison but at the same time say “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” and “my God supply every need of yours?” This is not dry theology, this is a passionate promise about “my God,” the One Paul knows intimately.
What do we need? In any context it depends on what the purpose is! If I am going on a journey what do I need? If it is short walk I might need only a shower proof jacket but if I am walking to the shops I might need a wallet and a bag and if it is a day’s hike in the mountains I will need a rucksack equipped with provisions, precautions and pathfinding aids.
So what is the purpose of our lives? For many it is to be “life, liberty and happiness” – based on the famous words in the American Declaration of Independence:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
They are striking and powerful words, but totally contrary to scripture! The pursuit of our own and others’ happiness is not what life is about.
The Bible shows us that we were made for God’s glory (e.g. Isaiah 43:7) and to enjoy friendship with Him (e.g. John 15:4-11, John 17:3, Phil 3:8-10) – living in His love, in friendship, means we obey Him and are His friends and so bring glory to Him by being fruitful.
If that is the purpose of our life journey, what do we need? A rain proof jacket and a wallet and bag might symbolise the physical things we “need” to stay alive but we can answer the question in a much more helpful way. We need anything necessary to fulfil our purpose of being friends of God and bearing fruit that gives Him glory. For Paul that sometimes meant being hungry or shipwrecked or beaten, and at other times it meant having an ample supply of good things. But on the basis of his experience of God, Paul could say “my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”
Let’s ask God to help us keep perspective on what we need – anything necessary to fulfil our purpose of being friends of God and bearing fruit that gives Him glory.