READ PHILIPPIANS FOUR
Paul concludes his letter to the Philippians with a bold promise:
“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
When you read this promise, what is your initial reaction?
If I told you that this promise was for you today as well, what would be your reaction?
If you’re anything like me (and since you seem to like nerdy Bible studies, I’m guessing you are!), you might read this promise with a bit of skepticism. To my modern ears, it sounds a bit like prosperity Gospel preaching, and calls to my mind the image of a white-suit-wearing televangelist who is asking for my money and promising God will return blessings to me as a result. But, when we understand this verse in context, all skepticism quickly fades away.
Look back at yesterday’s study. How should we understand this verse in context?
How does Paul’s own learned contentment, mentioned only verses prior, influence our interpretation of this verse?
Paul wants to leave the Philippian church with a great sense of God’s abundance. They are not just brought into right relationship with God in a legal sense, but they have been brought right into God’s family as sons and daughters. As such, their Father is the Lord of all things! All resources are His – resources of money and time and space and energy all belong to Him.
How does this help us understand the Philippians’ obedience in partnering with Paul in practical, financial ways?
As Christians we do not need to have a scarcity mindset about God’s provision. When we think small things of God, we will cling to our money and time like Scrooge on Christmas Eve. When we think that resources are scarce, we will hold onto what we have with closed hands. And, to our own detriment, we will miss out on partnering with God in the Gospel work He is doing in the world.
If our God owns all things, we have have a mindset of abundance! We can follow His call in our own life with confidence, knowing that He can easily provide for all our needs. As I write this, I am well aware that I am preaching to myself – I am currently trusting the Lord to provide for all our needs as we prepare to plant a church in eastern North Carolina. When I take my eyes off God and think about all that is required – a space, a core team, staff members, financial means, a place to live, a sound system, chairs, and the list could go on and on – it is easy for me to be overwhelmed because I don’t have any of those things. When I think rescues are scarce, I close my hands around what I do have. In fear and anxiety, I pull back my resources, holding them tightly. But, as the old hymn says, “Our God owns the cattle on a thousand hills.” There is nothing that is not His, and it is such a small thing to our God to provide for every single little need we have.
Our God is not a stingy God, but a God of generosity. When He calls us to partner with Him in being generous with our time and energy and belongings and funds, He will provide for all our needs. The richest inheritance that we could possibly gain (and the one we could never afford) is the promise of being united to Christ. These are the riches of glory that God has promised to His people. When we see the glory of Christ, how could we not trust that God will also put food on our tables? When we see the glory of Christ, how could we not trust that God will give us the energy for an early morning or long week? When we see the glory of Christ, how can we resist laying aside every earthly possession we have and saying, with Paul, “I have learned in whatever situation I am in to be content… I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
PRAY & REFLECT
Ask God to keep the glory of Christ in front you always. Do you have a scarcity mindset about your own resources? Talk to God about it. Ask Him to help you grow in trusting Him and relinquishing your resources to Him with joy.