“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” –
Philippians 4:19 NIV
When I was a kid, I loved baseball. And while I ate, slept and lived for Cal Ripken and the Baltimore Orioles, my favorite player was (and still is) Ken Griffey, Jr. He had everything: a beautiful, left-handed swing that could launch a ball 400 feet with zero effort. He was the picture of grace in the outfield: power, speed and courage all rolled into one. When he was on a baseball field, he owned every blade of grass or speck of dirt that he stepped on.
One of the things that Junior was famous for was popularizing high-top cleats. They were perfect for how he played. Regular cleats wouldn’t cut it for this guy, he needed something that could support his immense power. Junior was basketball player, football player and baseball player all rolled into one. And as soon as I saw those cleats, I wanted them. I had to have them. I needed them.
In fact, I needed them so badly that when my parents refused to buy them for me (they were over $100!) I decided I was going to stop playing ball. No lame regular cleats for me. I was going to refuse to do something I loved because I was convinced that I needed those shoes.
If only I’d been a more biblically focused kid and listened to Paul. “God will meet all your needs.” That was my answer, just be patient and God will provide me with those cleats. That’s what Paul was saying, right? “According to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.” Surely Jesus wants me to look good in right field, right?!
Earlier in his letter Paul says that he has learned to live without any needs. But rather than teach the people of Philippi to live in the same way, he assures them that their needs will be met by God, because he realizes that most people are like me, not yet ready to live a needless life. “Need” is a funny word. It is like “beauty”, that is, in the eye of the beholder. There is a famous story about a monk who has spent his whole life learning to live with as little as possible. The story ends with the monk telling a man visiting the monastery, “tell me what you need, and I will show you how to live without it.” The punchline of course highlights the fact that so much of what we think we “need” is really just an overflow of what we’re sure we “want.”
The fact of the matter is, more often than not we think we need so much more than God knows we need, but so much less than he actually gives us.