In the mid-nineteenth century, poverty characterized the people of the northeast Highlands of Scotland. During those days, a man named John Murray was praying for guidance by a riverside. Many of his neighbors were imigrating to America, and he was wondering if he should join them. As he was praying, he heard a loud thud on the grass behind him. A salmon had leaped right out of the water and was lying there for him! Murray took it as an answer that the Lord could provide for him in Scotland.
Philippians 4:19 says: “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” This verse is very well known, for good reason. However, I would like to point out one important fact about the verse’s application.
That fact is: The verse was written by a Christian (the apostle Paul) to other Christians (the Christians of Philippi). You see, it’s not just anyone who can rightly say, “I know that God will supply all my need according to His riches in glory.” The verse doesn’t obligate God to provide for those who do not know Jesus as Savior. Pay careful attention to the wording: God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
I’m not saying that God won’t supply the need of a lost person. The truth is, He usually does. As Jesus said, “He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45). I’m simply pointing out the vast difference between knowing God as one’s heavenly Father and merely knowing Him as “the man upstairs.”
Imagine me walking around the mall with my two boys. It’s 6:00 p.m. and they haven’t had supper. They look at me and say, “Daddy, we’re hungry. Will you buy us something to eat?” I will buy them something because I’m their father, a fact which obligates me to provide for their needs. That is how God responds to the Christian’s needs. He meets them out of a fatherly obligation.
But now imagine another boy, a total stranger, coming up to me in the mall and saying, “Mister, I’m hungry. Will you buy me something to eat?” Based upon my assessment of the situation, if I sense a genuine need in the child, I will buy him something to eat. But I’m not obligated to do it, am I? Do you see the difference? I meet my boys’ need out of parental obligation, but I meet the other boy’s need out of something else, call it mercy, pity, charity, kindness, or compassion.
So, I’ll leave you with two thoughts. First, if you do not know Jesus as your Savior, you are not a child of God. You are loved by Him and you are desired by Him, but you are not His child. You must believe in Christ as Savior to actually join the family (John 1:12). And then, second, if you do know Jesus as Savior, you really shouldn’t worry about the meeting of your needs. Remember that your heavenly Father has inexhaustible “riches” and is obligated to take care of you, even if he has to drop a salmon on your bank to do it.