The Providence of God, God supplies all our needs.
“My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
Perhaps two of the most difficult attitudes to cultivate in our life is an attitude of contentment that overflows into an attitude of giving rather than hording and saving. But the two not only are related in terms of our perspective of what we have, it is also governed by our perspective of God’s provision. In the closing words of Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi, Paul examines these two qualities. In verses 11-13 Paul affirms that he has learned to be content in whatever circumstance he encountered. Paul realized that contentment is not a natural character quality but one cultivated and developed through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. In his classic book, The Rare Jewell of Christian Contentment, puritan Jeremiah Burroughs (1599-1646) described Christian contentment as “that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God’s wise and fatherly disposal in every condition.” For Paul, the secret to learning to be content in every circumstance came from his understanding of God’s providence, that God provided for all his needs and strengthen him to face any circumstance. Thus, Burroughs points out, “My brethren, the reason why you have not got contentment in the things of the world is not because you have not got enough of them. That is not the reason. But the reason is because they are not things proportionable to that immortal soul of yours that is capable of God himself.” Contentment comes when we realize that all we need is what God provides, and what he has provided is himself.
But this brings us to the second theme this passage. Paul commends the church at Philippi for their willingness to share in his ministry by providing financial support. Even though Paul had established a number of churches in Asia Minor, it was only the church at Philippi which shared “with me in the matter of giving and receiving” (verse 15). But why were the people at Philippi so giving when all the other churches self-absorbed and tight-fisted? The answer lies in verse 19. They recognized that God supplied all their needs according to His riches. Just as the providential care of God brought a spirit of contentment to Paul, so the awareness of his care provided the church confidence to share in the needs of others, even when they were lacking. When Paul mentions the churches of Macedonia who gave “in a great ordeal of affliction and … their deep poverty” he no doubt had the Philippians primarily in mind. Concerning the relationship of giving and the providence of God, again Burrows writes, “nothing befalls you, good or evil, but there is a providence in those things that is of the infinite and eternal God.”
To trust in God’s providence is to fully rest in the provision of God. Because he cares for us, he gives us all that we need so there is nothing more we require. Contentment does not come when we are satisfied with what we have it comes by being satisfied with what God has given. This comes when we realize that God has given us the greatest need of all, the need of him. In verse 19 Paul reminds us that our ultimate need is that which only Christ can provide. If we are without Christ, no amount of early possessions will be adequate, if we have Christ, there is no need for any other possession. When you find yourself discontent, the answer is not found in the pursuit of more things, but in the pursuit of a deeper relationship with Christ.