I thank God for a roof over my head, food on the table, and enough money in the bank to survive for a time if I were to lose my pay check, but I shouldn’t expect those things from God. To demand or even assume that God will supply those basic “needs” would be arrogant and insensitive to Christians across the globe who do not always have those basic needs met. There are literally millions of Christians in the world who aren’t sure where their next meal is going to come from, they don’t have a safe and clean home in which to raise their children and they can’t afford to put money in savings, nor is their a safe place in there village for them to do so if the opportunity arose.
Why then, does Paul say in Philippians “my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19)?
Probably because our greatest needs are not physical but spiritual. What you and I need more than anything is the Lord, Jesus Christ. But let’s let Paul answer this question as I think the answer lies in the immediate context and the overall message of Philippians:
10 I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. 11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me. -Philippans 4:10-13
Paul rejoices that the Philippians have shown their concern for him with a financial gift to his ministry. In fact, they were the only church who supported him early on in his ministry in Macedonia. However, Paul wants the Philippians to know that had they neglected to give this gift, he would have been content. In fact, Paul learned to be content in any and every situation whether he was hungry or had plenty, whether he was in need or had abundance. In fact, it was probably in the midst of hunger and need when Paul learned to do all things through Christ who strengthens him (4:13). When you are hungry and needy, you cannot rely on your own strength to go on because you no longer have the necessary strength in yourself.
I don’t know about you, but I desperately need to hear this message because I can’t remember the last time I was in real physical need. One time in Seminary, I had to ask my parents to help me pay an unexpected medical bill, but I was never worried that I wouldn’t be able to eat dinner or breakfast. But those days could come, God doesn’t owe me a decent house, 3 meals a day, and a car that doesn’t break down. God owes me nothing but He has given of Himself to fill my greatest need, not out of obligation but out of love.
God so loved the world, that he gave his only son, so that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). My greatest need is to have my sin forgiven so that what separates me from God may be lifted and I may be brought to Him and know Him (1 Peter 3:18; 2 Cor. 5:21; Col. 1:21-23). We were created to glorify God (Isaiah 43:7; Col. 1:16), in fact everything exists for the glory of God in Jesus Christ. So when Paul says “my God will supply every need of yours,” I don’t think he is referring primarily to physical needs. Our greatest need is to know Christ. That is why Paul says that his God will supply every need “according to His riches in glory in Christ.” The way that God fills our needs as believers is by working in us to glory (rejoice, boast, exult) more and more in Christ Jesus–to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen (Phil. 4:20).
Paul knew that Christ is his greatest need, thus he could honestly say, “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus Christ my Lord” (Phil. 3:8).
So whatever it is that I own that I think in my flesh that I could not do without–I don’t need it. Christ is my only need and I praise God that in His mercy and grace He revealed that to me. My hope and prayer for myself and for you is this: I pray we learn more and more to live in light of our one true need and that God would do whatever it takes in our lives to make us see that Christ is all we need.