“… all your need…”
One of the things I love about the Bible is that there is always something new to be discovered, even in a verse you’ve read many times. When I study, I read until I come across a verse that all of a sudden strikes me in a new way, and then I see what new insight the Spirit has for me as I meditate on it.
Today I read the closing of Paul’s letter to the Philippians. Paul’s closings are always so full of love and encouragement, and he tells his readers – the Philippians and us! – with certainty, “my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory, by Jesus Christ.” I paused at that verse, wondering if God had something for me there, and then I nearly moved on. This verse seemed easy enough to understand, almost shallow, if you will. It’s a “greeting card” verse of encouragement: “don’t worry; God will take care of everything you need,” especially on the heels of verses 6-7, “Be anxious for nothing… present your requests to God.”
But as I hesitated, He gave me a peek at the depth of the words, and beckoned me in. How very shallow of me to doubt the depth of Scripture…
What struck me was that it doesn’t say “God shall supply all your needs,” it says, “need.” God will supply all my need. Now, it would be easy enough to dismiss this discrepancy as just two words that mean the same thing, like “flammable” and “inflammable,” but I’m not interested in an easy dismissal. Because when you come right down to it, we only have one true need: salvation. While God promised a land of milk and honey, our earthly comfort is not God’s first concern. After Adam and Eve invited sin in, by eating of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, His punishment to them, after the curses, was really more of a rescue mission: “Get ’em outta here! And don’t let them near the Tree of Life!” Because eating of that tree would have doomed humanity to eternal life in a now-decaying world. The chance that God gives us now is one of eternal life in Heaven. Salvation. Fulfilling your every desire here on earth means nothing at all if at the end of it, you face a lake of fire.
The verse goes on to make clear how, and to what extent, God will supply our need: “according to His riches in glory.” I think perhaps the word “riches” so close to the words “God shall supply” leads many readers to think Paul is promising wealth here. But Paul speaks of God’s riches in glory. And the phrase “according to” means “in conformity with” or “in keeping with.” God’s supply of our need will be in keeping with the richness of His glory. God doesn’t save us from hell only to consign us to life in prison without the possibility of parole, but to a life that’s in keeping with the richness of His glory.
And how? The only way. The Way. By Christ Jesus.
The need? Salvation.
What kind? The kind of eternal life only a God so rich in glory can promise.
How? By Christ Jesus.
A shallow verse in Scripture? Think again.
~ “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God,
and is profitable for doctrine,
for reproof, for correction,
for instruction in righteousness…” ~
2 Timothy 3:16