Text: Philippians 4:18-23
I. THE AGENT IN PROVISION – v18
God’s provision comes through certain agents. In this case, the agent is the Philippian church and their messenger Epaphroditus.
1. The Practical Significance of their Provision
“I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you”
According to Paul, the supply of the gift from the Philippians made him feel as one who had received everything and more. Prior to the arrival of Epaphroditus, he was content. Now he is as one who has a super abundance of supply.
Now did that mean he was materially rich? Not by the standards of the world. But Paul’s perception of wealth was not gauged by comparing what he owned with what others own.
Every single person here is in a better material state than Paul, and if we cannot say that we have all and abound, then we have a measure of covetousness that needs to be confessed.
2. The Spiritual Substance of their Provision
“an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God.”
The gift of the Philippians is likened by Paul to a Levitical sacrifice before God. Now remember, God doesn’t delight in burnt offering for the sake of burnt offering. “For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” Ps 51:16-17 Paul knows the spirit of their giving and the spiritual significance of their provision for him.
Turn to Heb 13:15-16. New Testament giving for the gospel is a type of sacrifice to God that pleases Him. And this is why we have no shame in making the offering an integral part of the worship service. It is an act of worship, and it should rightly have a place at our worship services.
How do you give to God? Is it an act of worship for you? II. THE ASSURANCE OF PROVISION – v19
1. The Cause of His Assurance – “My God”
At the very head of this verse, Paul sets the source of unlimited provision. It is God. He says “My God” to emphasize that this had been his personal experience of God’s
While God works through men and means, there is ultimately only one provider to this entire creation. No one else provides as God provides. Everyone else is merely distributing what God has granted to them. Everything you have to give to your family or to the kingdom of God, God has given to you first. He provides health, strength, wisdom, ability, and every capacity in order to provide.
The fact that you are here is evidence of God’s perfect ability to provide. Even those of you who have borne some measure of poverty in your life, you have known God’s limitless ability to provide.
He is Jehovah Jireh – The Lord provides. It is His nature to do so. He is glorified in providing for His people what they need, when they need it. Indeed, often He provides what we need even when we don’t know we need it.
2. The Confidence in His Assurance – “will”
There is a certainty here. There is no might, could, may, etc. And this is for now. “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want” Ps 23:1
3. The Capacity in His Assurance – “will supply”
i.e. fill to the full. This is a statement of fact. He is not promising to meed out greed, but our need.
“your needs” – within the context it is for the church as a work. He will supply the need for the work. But, by implication it means He will supply for the needs of each individual, for the body is supplied by the members. If you can imagine the church being the internal vitals of a body, those organs have their needs met by the labour of the members; arms, hands, fingers, legs, feet, and toes. Those members provide food for the vitals, but in turn the vitals provide energy for the members. You can’t divide them, they are working for each other. And so when Paul gives the promise to the church body, it is also a promise to each member of the church as well. God WILL supply your need child of God.
“according to his riches” i.e. great wealth. He does not indulge us give in such a way that we’re inclined to think ourselves self-sufficient. He gives abundantly but in a measured way that we can cope with, without losing touch with Him.
The entire context of this is in material needs. And as this relates to the work of God, I said two weeks ago that God will always finance His will. This is why I believe many church fundraisers are unbiblical.
If you run a Saturday car wash, or a cake sale, or anything like that where you set a price on a product or service in order to raise money for church work, that’s turning church finances into a business. You are also stealing from legitimate local businesses because you’re running a business-like operation with volunteers and they can’t compete.
If you run a raffle, you’re incentivizing giving with the hope of a prize. if you charge an entrance fee into an event where the proceeds go to church work, you’re forcing the poor to pay more than they can, and the rich to pay less than they should.
The church never functioned like this until the church began to function like a business. And in such cases, it is not a spiritual provision but a fleshly provision, and it is not of God. God provides for His work by exercising grace in His people, so that they give out of the liberality of their heart by way of donation according as God has prospered them.
To those who are new here, there’s a small cluster of people in this church who watched for years as God provided for His work against the odds.
4. The Compass of His Assurance – “in glory by Christ Jesus”
“in glory” i.e. God’s wealth is with Him where He is. Thus, it is not affected by recession. It cannot be stolen by thieves. It cannot be corrupted and lose their value.
“by Christ Jesus” i.e. those who have access to it are those who know Christ. The riches come through Christ. His work upon the cross has guaranteed provision for us. He is our Joseph, and has opened the storehouse of heaven to us.
III. THE AIM OF PROVISION – v18
It is to supply the lack that opens up by supporting the gospel. As the Philippians had given so sacrificially to Paul, Paul feels the need to remind them that God will supply the needs they have, which they wouldn’t have had they not given sacrificially.
Thus, in essence this is not a general promise of God meeting your daily needs believer. Those passages exist. This is more focused upon the matter that God will make up according to your giving for the gospel.
You can’t out-give God. And the people who support the gospel by supporting her preachers, teachers, and missionaries, will be God’s top priority for provision.
“Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.” Prov 3:9-10
“Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” Luke 6:38
Using an analogy, Jesus teaches that God will give more than you have given.
IV. THE ANTHEM TO THE PROVIDER – v20
Have said all this, he ends with a doxology. What other response can there be to a God who has opened the storehouses of heaven to His people? .