Mission and Need
A couple of the most quoted scriptures I hear people talk about is Philippians 4:13 and 19;
13 goes “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” and 19 goes “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
These are great scriptures and particularly the first one I believe as children of God we can apply to all areas of our life. I’ve only just really noticed the context of where these scriptures are found and I have been blown away. It is so revealing about God’s heart for the lost, His Kingdom and His heart for us as individuals.
Faith and money…. such a hot topic in Christianity with a million different approaches from all walks of Christians. Jesus taught on the subject a lot and without apology drawing some hard lines on the subject many times (Example Matthew 6:24). Paul the Apostle also spoke on it a lot and the quoted verses apply to provision and position.
So often we respond to God from a position of need and not of mission. Paul addresses both these points in context of Philippians 4. And I think this is why there is a constant frustration (particularly in the Western church) between the believer and their faith in a limitless God who quite often doesn’t seem to supply all they need. They constantly repeat these scriptures hoping that this is the display of their faith all the while missing God’s heart in the moment they are in.
In chapter 4, Paul is writing to the Philippians to thank them for their generosity toward him in his mission to preach the gospel. Here it is in its entirety and I have highlighted some important parts;
10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. 11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
14 Nevertheless you have done well that you shared in my distress. 15 Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only. 16 For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities. 17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account. 18 Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God. 19 And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. 20 Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever.”
First, Paul address’ himself, that he is on a God given mission and there are physical things that he needs to complete this. But he also says that he has learnt to be content. Saying that regardless of the conditions he faces, abundant provision or lack of, he will complete it through Jesus strengthening him. But he goes on to talk about the great benefit to those who give to his mission and this is where people take the end of the scripture, without applying the first part.
As believers we are all here on mission. Some of us don’t know all the details of our own personal mission, but as a body, our mission is to bring in the Kingdom of God and reveal His glory through Jesus.
As a missionary, mine is to go out to preach the Gospel clearly/purposefully to whom ever I meet and make disciples, like Paul’s, full time. It’s not everyone’s to bring the Kingdom this way, but it is my assignment. What Paul is saying to the Philippians is essentially,
- Thank you for your support. It’s an acceptable sacrifice to God. Especially when I knew you couldn’t give before.
- In response, God will supply all of their needs according to HIS riches and glory in Jesus. Which is limitless!
- It’s all for our Father’s glory.
God has constantly exercised my faith muscle in regards to supply before I was a missionary and given me a greater understanding of what provision is for in the first place; the advance of the Kingdom, not only for the ability to supply for myself or even my family (I said ‘not only’. As in God is big enough to do both!)
Ten years ago, before I started doing what I am doing now, I was a landscape gardener. It was close to minimum wage and I had some challenges come up against me in regards to a legal battle to see my daughter. I earnt too much to receive legal aid, but not enough to be able to afford a lawyer. I said to God, “why can’t I just win the lottery?!” and He responded “Because I want you to see me in other people.” Long story short, I responded in faith to know that I was in the right place mission wise (my current job) and God would supply the rest and God did! An amazing Christian lawyer took me on for nothing.
Why am I saying all of this? I want to see all believers free from the constant bondage of need driven interactions with God. My self included and as Paul says ‘I have learnt….’. It’s a process, but one with some practical steps. If this is you, I would do a few of things;
- Ask God what your mission is in regards to the gospel. For me this was revealed to me when I first got saved, but it took 12 years of life training to start doing it!
- Ask God for a mission to give to. Fellow believers provided for Jesus in His mission, same with the disciples and also with Paul. It’s not a hand out to a struggling believer. It’s an investment in the very Kingdom God put us here to reveal displaying Himself in our giving.
- It takes risk to say ‘yes’ to God. He has challenged me many times to give especially when I don’t think I have it to give! Just the other week, a friend of mine who is a pastor was telling me how he is struggling to pay for his car to be fixed that he needs to transport his kids around. After I got off the phone, I felt to give to him even though I was short for the month. As I went to give, my friend said ‘NO! You are raising your own funds!’ I responded with ‘Thanks for your concern, but don’t steal my blessing away.’ Less than a week later, someone gave me ten times what I gave. I gave out of God asking me to, not simply to receive back. Listen for the God inspired moments to exercise your faith muscle!
- Remember what faith is, ‘Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.’ Hebrews 11:1. God will show up from out of the most unexpected places sometimes. Don’t try and work out what’s impossible for us, because it’s possible for Him.
- It’s the Fathers heart to teach us to be content, no matter the circumstance and to display His love through each of us. He is a giver and so are we!
- Lastly, It’s all for God’s glory, so don’t get to caught up on principles that you have learnt from your own experience. Dive into the Word and find out how God has operated since the beginning of time. It’s always provision for mission.
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