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Let God Stretch What You Have

January Bible Study

In Touch Ministries staff January 1, 2024

Need is an interesting thing, don’t you agree? Our idea of it changes noticeably when we become believers. In fact, our understanding of what’s truly necessary keeps evolving as we mature spiritually. Unprofitable desires fall away, trust in God’s view increases, and we see the Father’s gifts everywhere. It’s not just that we’re thinking in a more spiritual way. Rather, God always provides miraculously for His people—a fact we begin to grasp by experiencing it firsthand.

Illustration by Stephanie Wunderlich


Last month, we read chapter 4 of Paul’s letter to the Philippians. Now, let’s look more closely at its second half.


Philippians 4:10-20


Living with trust in Christ leads to contentment, regardless of our worldly goods.

Paul is thanking the Philippians for monetary assistance as he travels and preaches the gospel. He expresses joy at their help, but not because they relieved a “need” of his (vv. 10-11). Regarding financial support, does it seem strange to be happy for a reason other than having one’s needs fulfilled?  What reason does Paul give for his pleasure at the gift (v. 17)?

  • Explain the “profit” accruing to the Philippians’ account (v. 17). Now, read Matthew 10:42. How does this verse expand on the idea of “profit”?

  • Consider the contrast between “cup of cold water” and “reward.” Which do you suppose is worth more? Now ponder your outlook on material needs versus higher callings, such as caring for God’s people, fulfilling His will, and acting selflessly. How do Paul’s words—”I know how to get along with little” (Phil. 4:12)—complement what Christ says in Matthew 10:42? When answering, if you detect any change in your thinking about God’s provision, make note of it.

  • Christ’s indwelling Spirit changes us on multiple levels. In verses 12-13, Paul says the secret to his contentment is “[Christ] who strengthens me.” Verse 13 is often invoked when one yearns for victory or great success. But what does Paul’s inclusion of “suffering need” and “difficulty” (vv. 12, 14) tell you about his meaning?


Paul reflects on the Philippians’ gifts and God’s abundant generosity.

  • Though Jesus promised His followers a reward for even the smallest gift (Matt. 10:42), that’s not the only reason to look out for people’s needs. What motivates you to put the comfort of others—especially believers—ahead of your own? Take a moment to think joyfully of Christ, who fills you with love and strength. 

  • Paul tells his friends in Philippi, “I … have an abundance” (4:18). The Greek word used here for abundance means “over and above; exceeding what is necessary.” What does this tell you about how God covers our necessities? Describe a time when He exceeded your needs.

  • The apostle calls the Philippians’ gift “fragrant” (v. 18). What do you think he means?

  • Finally, Paul makes an extraordinary statement in verse 19. Name some biblical or personal miracles that exhibit God’s “riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Then prayerfully trust Him to provide for all your needs—remembering that our idea of what “need” means changes as we grow in faith.


God’s a wonderful provider. As we grow in Christlikeness, we become generous like Him.

  • Paul’s words to his friends reflect true joy. To find similar contentment, let your definition of need be shaped by God—while you look forward to receiving from His limitless resources. Giving and still having enough seems contradictory, but it isn’t to God. And when we are fully in Christ, it won’t feel unusual to us either.

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