And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:19 ESV
The book of Philippians is so full of quotable verses. It is only 4 chapters, but many of the passages that we love to memorize and claim are found in its few pages. For example, chapter 1 has verse 6, which says, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” And of course, verse 21, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
We could go on, because this book is rich in quotable passages, and the reason we commit them to memory is because they help strengthen our hearts and grow our faith. I hope you make a practice of memorizing Scripture, and that you use that tool to grow your faith. There is, however, a danger that we must avoid in claiming verses from the Bible. Yes, you heard me right. I said there is a danger in memorizing and quoting the Bible! Pay close attention to this next point. I am not saying that you shouldn’t use the Scriptures in this way but I am saying that you must always consider the context! The danger is in ignoring the context in which your favorite verse appears. For example, the reason that Paul could confidently say, “And I am sure of this…” in verse 6 of Philippians 1 is that he saw certain things in their lives that demonstrated their genuine faith in Christ.
“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.”
You see, it was their partnership with Paul in the Gospel that made Paul confident that God had begun a work in them, and would complete it. The promise of verse 6 is not a blanket promise for just anyone to claim. We must consider the context!
So, what about the context of Philippians 4:19? Is that verse saying that God is obligated to provide for every person’s needs? Well, remember that context doesn’t simply mean the few verses around a passage. That is certainly part of it, but there is the broader context of the book (Philippians in this case), the New Testament, and so on. So, why did Paul write the letter to the Philippians? It is actually a thank you letter for the gifts they had sent him. That is partly what he was referring to when he talked about their “partnership in the Gospel” in verse 5 of chapter 1. The church at Philippi was a very generous church.
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. Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again.
Philippians 4:15-16 ESV
This was not just a one-time special offering. They had supported Paul’s ministry consistently and from the beginning! Generosity was a lifestyle for the Philippians. It was also evidence of their genuine faith. Paul says this right before verse 19 of chapter 4:
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.
Philippians 4:18 ESV
So, who is the promise of Philippians 4:19 written for? It for those believers who practice their faith through generosity! Wow, do you mean that I have to be a faithful giver in order to claim the promise of God’s provision in this verse? Well, actually the answer is yes, but it is not because giving to the Lord is some sort of heavenly mutual fund. It is because God wants us to put Him first (Matthew 6:33). The only way to do that with our finances is to give generously to the work of His kingdom. As long as we hold tightly to our checkbook, we are not holding tightly to Him. Yes, He wants us to be good stewards of what He has entrusted us with by managing our finances well, but that begins with giving to the Lord first. That is the attitude of faith that He will reward through His divine provision. I could tell you countless stories of God’s provision for our family. It hasn’t been easy by any means, but I wouldn’t trade the experience of actually seeing God provide in miraculous ways for anything! He delights in providing for His children as we express our trust in Him through generous giving. If you have lived this way, you know exactly what I am talking about. If you have trouble taking the step of generous giving, let me invite you to try God out. Begin with the tithe. That is 1/10 of your gross income. This is the only area in which the Lord commands us to test Him. (See Malachi 3:11) See if the Lord will not open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing on you.