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.
14 Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. 15 And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. 16 Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. 17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. 18 I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. 20 To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.
21 Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me greet you. 22 All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household.
23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. – Philippians 4:10-23
This passage contains two of the most commonly quoted promises in the Bible; I can do all things through him who strengthens me, and my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
What does Paul mean when he says, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me?” It is usually applied when we are facing what we see as a situation that will take our best effort, and maybe even more than we think we have to offer. It is our ticket to victory. God’s promise that will assure us we will come out on top. But is that what Paul was saying? The context in which Paul made this statement was his contentment both in circumstances when he was brought low and in circumstances in which he abounded. I take that as just getting by financially versus having more than enough. Paul states that Christ strengthens him to be content in any circumstance. He isn’t in the mulligrubs when his bank account is near empty. He is still rejoicing in Christ and is content in his circumstances. I think this is one of the most significant challenges to American Christians, being content. We are so success-driven and wealth-driven that there is no place of contentment for most of us. Remember, Paul is writing this message of contentment from his prison in Rome, not the best of circumstances.
I was sharing with an old friend earlier this week, and during the conversation, I shared with him how my life had changed once I submitted to the fact that God is absolutely sovereign over all things. I no longer sense the need to control my life. Not that I don’t plan and do my best to perform well in my life, but I recognize that the outcome of my best efforts is up to God’s good pleasure. And, I can rejoice in God’s good pleasure. If he has pleasure in it, why can’t I? It has completely changed my perspective on my circumstances and has allowed me to find contentment as I have never known before.
What is Paul referring to when he says, “My God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus?” This is a comprehensive and all-inclusive statement. The context of this statement is the Philippians are once again partnering financially with the Apostle in his mission. Paul introduces the subject with the statement, “Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble.” This was a true partnership in the Lord. Further insight into Paul’s attitude is telling, “Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit.” His interest was not for his own benefit from the gift, but the fruit that would be produced through the gift. And, Paul was even saying that whatever fruit is generated from their partnering financially with him would be put to their credit rather than his; something we should all remember when we partner financially with missionaries. We who are givers get some credit in heaven for the fruit produced by our gifts.
The Philippian gift was a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. This is the context of the statement that God will supply all of our needs according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. It isn’t really a carte blanche promise of prosperity to all believers. It is a definite promise that when we invest ourselves in the Great Commission, whether the one doing the telling (preaching) or the one doing the supporting financially, God will supply what we need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. It is a side benefit of fellowship in the gospel.
Both of these promises, I can do all things through him who strengthens me, and my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus, are valid, powerful and full of grace. I believe that when they are taken out of their context, we miss a lot of what God intends for us in these promises. As important as it is, these promises provide more than just overcoming our odds and having our financial needs met. They fill our hearts with the fellowship of the Holy Spirit and cause us to abound in joy in Jesus.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.