I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. 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. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. 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. And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen. – Philippians 4:10-20 (ESV)
Sometimes we view relationships in a reciprocal manner. We are nice to people who are nice to us and kind to those who can directly benefit our lives. Yet, as Christians who support the spread of the gospel we are not looking to find missionaries who can somehow pay us back or whose fame and prestige will somehow rub off on us if we are numbered among his supporters. Our goal is to spread the gospel and not to receive anything back. Nevertheless, as verses 18-20 make clear, the LORD does reward those who open their hands and hearts to support the spread of the gospel. Gordon Fee writes:
The mention of God at the end of verse 18 leads directly to Paul’s great master stroke – verse 19. The reciprocity of friendship is now back in Paul’s court. But he is in prison and cannot reciprocate directly. So he does an even better thing: Since their gift had the effect of being a sweet-smelling sacrifice, pleasing to God, Paul assures them that God, whom he deliberately designates as my God, will assume responsibility for reciprocity. Thus picking up the language of “my need” from verse 16 and “fill to the full” from verse 18, he promises them that “my God will fill up every need of yours.”
From his point of view, they obviously have the better of it! First, he promises that god’s reciprocation will cover “every need of yours,” especially their material needs, as the context demands – but also every other kind of need, as the language demands. One cannot imagine a more fitting way for this letter to conclude, in terms of Paul’s final word to them personally, In the midst of their “poverty,” God will richly supply their material needs. In their present suffering in the face of opposition, God will richly supply what is needed (steadfastness, joy, encouragement). In their need to advance in faith with one mindset, God will richly supply the grace and humility necessary for it. In the place of both “grumbling” (2:14) and “anxiety” (4:6) God will be present with them as the “God of peace.” My God, Paul says, will act for me on your behalf by “filling to the full” all your needs.
MEMORY WORK – Shorter Catechism Q/A 77
Q. 77. What is required in the ninth commandment?
A. The ninth commandment requireth the maintaining and promoting of truth between man and man, and of our own and our neighbor’s good name, especially in witness-bearing.