|Mount Calvary Baptist Church (Singapore)||
|Mount Calvary Baptist Church (Singapore)||
by Pastor John Khng
It is very common for Christians to claim the promise that God will supply all their needs based on Philippians 4:19 which says, “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” without looking at the verse before which says, “I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God.” – Philippians 4:18
The “But” in verse 19 tell us that the promise is especially for those who were mentioned in verse 18 although we can claim the promise whenever we are in need of God’s provisions. The promise in verse 19 is an encouragement to those who are taking care of the needs of others just like the Philippian Christians. When we take care of other people’s needs, God will take care of our needs.
What are needs? Needs are the “must have” for survival.
What are wants? Wants are the “wish to have” but not necessary must have.
Apostle Paul was in prison in Rome at that time when the Philippian church sent him a gift through their messenger, Epaphroditus. As a prisoner, Apostle Paul would have been viewed as someone who was in need, being deprived of the many essential things in life. Yet Paul was a contented man because his focus was on Christ and not on his own needs. Paul said, “Not that I speak in respect of want (wish to have more than is needed): for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” – Philippians 4:11-12 Paul knew how to abase and how to abound which means he was able to handle himself well in every situation in life, whether he is having needs or having abundance. He could live a contented life because as He testified in verse 13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me.”
There is a New Perspective that we can gain from the following story. A Jewish man in Hungary went to his rabbi and complained, “Life is unbearable. There are nine of us living in one room. What can I do?” The rabbi answered, “Take your goat into the room with you.” The man was sceptical, but the rabbi insisted, “Do as I say and come back in a week.”
A week later the man returned looking more distraught than before. “We can’t stand it,” he told the rabbi. “The goat is filthy.” The rabbi said, “Go home and let the goat out, and come back in a week.” A week later the man returned, radiant, exclaiming, “Life is beautiful. We enjoy every minute of it now that there’s no goat - only the nine of us.” (Reader's Digest [12/81].) Contentment is more a matter of our perspective than of our circumstances, isn’t it?
By focusing on Christ instead of our needs and our circumstances, we can rejoice in the Lord always. Philippians 4:4 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, rejoice.”
As we learn from Paul how to live above our needs, we are also exhorted in the Bible to put God first before our needs. This is mentioned in Matthew 6:33, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” We are not to be like those whose first concern is their basic needs. If we put our needs before God’s kingdom and His righteousness, it will give us an excuse to do wrong to get what we think are our desperate or rightful needs. The “all these things” in Matthew 6:33 refer to the basic need for food, for drink and for clothing. God, our Heavenly Father knows that we have need of all these things (Read Matthew 6:31-33; Luke 12:29-31). Our priority is to put God first and trust Him to take care of all of our needs, even our basic needs.
We can trust God for our needs because God knows our needs even before we ask Him. This assurance comes from Matthew 6:7 and 8, “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.”
F.B. Meyer cautions: “We must distinguish between our needs and our desires. It is possible to want a good many things which we do not need. We often want things which would injure us greatly. Paul wanted to be delivered from his thorn, but his real need was for more grace. We want a great many things which are not possible for our Heavenly Father to give us, except to the great detriment of our best life. There is no promise that God shall supply all our desires or wishes, there is a certainty that He will fulfill all our need.” (Commentary on Philippians)
We say, "I need" and the question is, "Is it your need? or your want?"
Contentment in Christ is the solution to the conflict of our needs versus our wants.
(Ladies Newsletter, Issue 6)