8 Minute Read
To the best of your ability, get rid of all distractions. Take a couple of minutes to breathe deeply, to quiet yourself in the Lord’s presence. Then, prayerfully ask the Lord to speak to you in this time and let Him know that you will be listening and will make whatever adjustments He will reveal to you.
Today’s Bible Reading:
Listen to the Lord
Slowly and reflectively read the following verses and listen to what God will say to you through them. Then, consider writing down any insights He reveals to you.
Philippians 4:19 (NLT): “And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.”
Reflections from Scripture:
Philippians 4:19 is often ripped out of context. It is often forced to say something that God never intended for it to say.
All too often, well-intentioned but uninformed Christians take this verse to mean that God will always meet their needs.
Now, you may read my last sentence and say: “Well, isn’t that exactly what Philippians 4:19 promises?”
My answer is a resounding, “No!”
It is an unfortunate practice of too many of God’s children to simply grab a verse from the pages of Scripture and recklessly apply it to their lives. But, that is not how a serious student of God’s Word treats their Bible. They realize that verses are in the context of all of the verses around them. To understand the meaning of a verse, you have to read its context.
So, in Philippians 4:19, we have the apparent assurance that God will take care of our needs. But, now, let’s give it a little context.
Philippians 4:18–19 (NLT): “At the moment I have all I need—and more! I am generously supplied with the gifts you sent me with Epaphroditus. They are a sweet-smelling sacrifice that is acceptable and pleasing to God. And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.”
Essentially, Paul was doing missionary work. He was getting the Gospel out to the masses. And, for him to do that, he needed financial resources for boat trips, meals, lodging, and so much more. So, Paul said that as the Philippians Christians provided for his needs as he got the Gospel out, God would return the favor and take care of their needs.
Essentially, Paul said that since they were using their money to further God’s kingdom, God would take care of them.
It is the same message that Jesus gave in the Sermon on the Mount:
Matthew 6:33 (NLT): “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”
Again, the principle is this: If we use our resources to make possible what is important to God (the Gospel, increasing the size and influence of His kingdom, etc.), then God will take care of us. If we are good stewards of the money He has already entrusted to us by using it for His purposes, then He will take care of our most basic needs.
We cannot rip Philippians 4:19 out of context and say that God will take care of our needs if we use all of our resources on ourselves. The promise only applies to those who leverage their resources for Kingdom purposes.
But, one more thing. God is the one who gets to define what our needs are, not us.
So, my friend, do you see how important it is to look at the context of a verse before assuming that we know what that verse is saying? If we are serious students of God’s Word, we cannot handle His Word recklessly. Instead, we must work to understand what God is saying to accurately apply it and teach it to others.
2 Timothy 2:15 (NLT): “Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.”
Spend Time in Prayer
Lord Jesus, help me to be a good steward of the resources you have entrusted to me. Help me use what You have blessed me with to further Your Kingdom and Your interests. Then, I can rest knowing that You will take care of me and provide me with what You determine that I need. I pray this in Your Name, Amen.
Matt Ellis is the pastor of First Baptist Church in Polk City, Florida (fbcpolkcity.com). His latest book is God’s Grace in the Real World. Connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.