"But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:19.
How many times have you heard this verse? It is the kind of verse that you can memorize without ever reading, just because it is used so much. You know it. You believe it. You count on it.
But, what does it mean? Does it mean that God will supply me with a car so I can get to the grocery store? Is this somehow equal to supplying an African villager with a sack of rice to feed his family?
This verse has the potential to make us judge our brothers and sisters in Christ. After all, God shall supply all your needs, so if someone needs something and it doesn't get supplied, they must be doing something wrong, right? Maybe they have some secret sin. Maybe they're not really saved. Maybe they're wasting their money in some manner, and are not being good stewards. Boy, Satan can have a hay day with this one! But is this assumption true?
Last night, for the first time, I actually read this verse in context of the rest of the chapter. It was written by Paul to the church in Philippi. Starting in chapter 4, verse 15, he says: "Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity. Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account. But 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, well pleasing to God. But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus."
These are my thoughts: This was not a letter to one person. It was written to an entire church. It also wasn't written to every church. This one was set apart as having done something the other churches hadn't done. This church was focused on supplying Paul with everything HE needed. He called it a sacrifice. This church was working together to make sacrifices for someone else. My other thought is that it really is not implied that each person in that church would individually be self-sufficient, and have everything they needed all by themselves. This goes against the good old American "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" mentality. My two year old's favorite phrase right now is "Let ME do this!" I think that we don't really ever get over this feeling. We want to do it OURSELVES. To do less is somehow demeaning and embarrassing. However, I think God will supply all of our needs, only if we rely on each other. If a fellow Christian's need is not met, it is not his fault. It is ours. Nobody gets it all. Nobody can do everything. God has given different spiritual gifts, talents, abilities, and yes, even material goods, to each of us. I think he does this on purpose. We are not complete in and of ourselves. We need other people. It is only through working together and sharing that all of our needs will be supplied. It's a humility thing. It's a community thing. It's a global thing. It's a God thing.