An often quoted promise of Scripture is found in Philippians 4:19, “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
This verse can be challenging to understand when we consider the dire circumstances of some believers. Think of Paul, himself, who a few verses earlier made this assertion, “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.” (Philippians 4:12 ESV) In Philippians 4:19 Paul promises that God would provide for all of their needs, and yet in 4:12 he indicated that he had just gone through a period of need.
This seeming contradiction can be reconciled by noting that two totally different Greek words are used in these two verses. The word in Philippians 4:12 refers to “lacking” items while the term in Philippians 4:19 refers to “necessities.” The point is that we might lack things at times but those items are not necessities. Paul spoke in terms of “hunger” in Philippians 4:12, but he recognized that in God’s plan additional food was not a necessity at the time.
In other words, commodities only comprise necessities when they are essential for achieving God’s purposes for us. In all likelihood this very day some imprisoned believers in North Korea will starve to death. For them, food is no longer a necessity because God’s earthly purposes for them have been completed, and the time has come for Him to take them home.
Therefore, as we quote Philippians 4:19 and apply to our lives, we must assess our necessities not based on our comfort or even our physical needs, but in terms of God’s purposes for our lives.