May 17 – Overcoming Pessimism (Philip)

The twelve apostles included “Philip” (Matt. 10:3).

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Pessimism will blind you to the sufficiency of God’s resources.

It’s been said that an optimist sees a glass half full, while a pessimist sees it half empty. An optimist sees opportunities; a pessimist sees obstacles. In one sense Philip was an optimist. He recognized Jesus as the Messiah and immediately saw an opportunity to share his discovery with Nathanael. In another sense, Philip was a pessimist because on occasions he failed to see what Christ could accomplish despite the apparent obstacles.

On one such occasion Jesus had just finished teaching and healing a crowd of thousands of people. Night was falling, and the people were beginning to get hungry. Apparently Philip was responsible for the food, so Jesus asked him, “Where are we to buy bread, that these may eat?” (John 6:5). Philip said, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, for every one to receive a little” (v. 7). In other words, “We don’t have enough resources in our whole savings account to buy enough food for a group this size!” Philip’s calculating, pragmatic, pessimistic mind could reach only one conclusion: this is an utter impossibility.

Jesus knew all along how He was going to solve the problem, but He wanted to test Philip’s faith (v. 6). Philip should have passed the test because he had already seen Jesus create wine from water at the wedding at Cana (John 2:1–11). Despite Philip’s failure, Jesus didn’t give up on him. Instead, from five barley loaves and two fish He created enough food to feed the entire crowd, thus replacing Philip’s pessimism with a reaffirmation of divine sufficiency.

There’s a little of Philip in each of us. We’ve experienced God’s saving power and have seen Him answer prayer, and yet there are times when we let pessimism rob us of the joy of seeing Him work through obstacles in our lives. Don’t let that happen to you. Keep your eyes on Christ, and trust in His sufficiency. He will never fail you!

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Suggestions for Prayer:  Memorize Ephesians 3:20–21. Recite it often as a hymn of praise and an affirmation of your faith in God.

For Further Study: Read Numbers 13–14. ✧ What kind of report did the pessimistic spies bring back from the Promised Land? ✧ How did the people react to their report? ✧ How did God react to their report?[1]


10:3 James the son of Alphaeus. There are 4 men in the NT named James: 1) the Apostle James, brother of John (see note on 4:21); 2) the disciple mentioned here, also called “James the Less” (Mk 15:40); 3) James, father of Judas (not Iscariot, Lk 6:16); and 4) James, the Lord’s half-brother (Gal 1:19; Mk 6:3), who wrote the epistle that bears the name. He also played a leading role in the early Jerusalem Church (Ac 12:17; 15:13; Gal 1:19). Thaddaeus. Elsewhere he is called Judas, son of James (Lk 6:16; Ac 1:13).[2]


10:3 Philip Not mentioned anywhere else in Matthew (compare John 1:43–48; 6:5–7; 12:21–22; 14:8–9). This apostle is not the same as Philip the evangelist in the book of Acts (Acts 6:5; 8:1–8; 21:8).[3]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 150). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Mt 10:3). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[3] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Mt 10:3). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

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