Have you ever heard the verse “And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus”? What about “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need”?
We Christians tend to favor verses like this because they are positive, promising us provision. But have you ever noticed that both verses begin with the word “And”?
All of God’s promises are always conditional, meaning there is something we have to do first if we want them to become a reality in our lives.
When it comes to Phil 4:19 and 1.Cor 9:8, we have to read Phil 4:18 and 1. Cor 9:7 to discover what the conditions are. Both in Phil 4:18-19 and 1. Cor 9:7-8, we see that the condition is giving. Because the Corinthians and the church in Phillipi have given money to Paul and his work for God, they are assured by Paul God will meet their needs.
Does this mean that if we give money to God’s work, we will be blessed in return? Is this not a sort of prosperity Gospel?
If we want to understand this, we have to remember who Paul was. Paul was a Hebrew Jew who never stopped being a Jew after his encounter with Yeshua on the road to Damascus. Yeshua (Jesus) was born as a Jew in Israel to Jewish parents, and throughout the first centuries, believers in Yeshua (gentile and natural-born Jews) lived as Messianic Jews in obedience to the Torah with faith in the cross. So when Paul writes in 1.Cor 9:7-8 and Phil 4:18-19 how they will be blessed because they have given, we first have to understand what the Torah says about giving money to the work of God considering how the Torah was Pauls’s Bible.
The Torah says in Lev 6:16,26, if someone ministers to you, it is your obligation to make a donation and support that ministry with your finances. The Torah has a lot of financial laws that can only be fulfilled when you are in Israel with access to the temple. One such law is the law of tithing, which requires us access to the temple.
Lev 6:16,26 was not something that could only be done in the temple, so this is a part of the Torah that still applies outside of Israel without having access to a temple. How do we know this? In Gal 6, 1. Cor 9:13 and Romans 15:27 Paul tells anyone who receives ministry are obligated in the Torah to give financial support in return.
In Phil 4:18-19 and 1.Cor 9:7-8, Paul is speaking to believers who obey the Torah. Because of their Torah obedience, they believe they are required to support Paul with their finances. Because they choose to do this, Paul says Yehovah (God) will supply all their needs and bless them abundantly in return. Paul gives one more condition to the promise in 1.Cor 9. He says we will only be blessed if we give out of joy, not because we are pressured to give or we need to give.
This is why we know Paul is not a supporter of the prosperity Gospel.
What Paul is saying is that when you have a spiritual need, Yehovah will meet that need by sending you one of His ministers. When your need is fulfilled, you should feel grateful to Yehovah and show your gratefulness by making sure the financial needs of that ministry are met. Your motive for giving should always be love for Yehovah and what He has done for you, and if you do give out of love, Yehovah will bless you in return.
How much should you give?
Paul never says how much we should give; instead, he says each individual has to decide for themselves what they can give. In 1. Tim, he even says that if you have to choose between giving to the work of Yehovah and providing for yourself and your family, you are always obligated to make sure you can provide for yourself and your family first. But when you have provided for your own needs, and you have something left to give, it would be a sin if you chose not to give to the work of Yehovah.
What about fear?
Paul never says a joyful giver does not feel fear when he or she gives their money away to the work of Yehovah. He says they choose to do it out of love for Yehovah, even if they might feel fear while doing it. Why would they feel fear wanting to do something out of love for Yehovah?
The Torah says that when you have made sure all your needs are met, and your family is provided for, it would be a sin if you did not give anything to a ministry that has helped you. How much you should give does not matter; what matters is that if you have something to offer, you choose to give it as a sign of gratefulness for Yehovah using a ministry to help you.
The devil knows what the Torah says, and he is the author of lies and the father of fear. When you have provided for yourself and your family, he uses fear as a way of preventing you from doing what is right. Whatever the amount you have left to give, he will try his best to convince you to keep that money for yourself. The way he does is by fear, trying to convince you it is the “right thing” to save that money for a rainy day or to use it for something you want, but you dont need it.
So even though the idea of giving money to a ministry that has helped you might fill you with fear, you should fight that fear and do it anyway as a sign of respect and love for Yehovah. When Yehovah sees your faithfulness and your love, He promises to supply all your needs and bless you abundantly in return.
Do you see how the promise in 1. Cor 9 and Phil 4 all depends on the intention behind your giving? If you give with the intent of blessing Yehovah and expressing gratefulness to Him, even if you might be afraid of doing it, He will bless you in return. But if you choose not to give anything, also though you have something left to offer, you are sinning against Yehovah.
Do you want to see Phil 4 and 1.Cor 9 fulfilled in your life?
If the answer is yes, you have to start honoring the ministries that have helped you with your finances. If someone has prayed for you, taught you the Bible, prophesied to you, counseled you, you have to honor Yehovah by giving something in return. The amount does not matter, what matters is that you give what you can after making sure your needs are met and the needs of your family.