Want or Plenty
Are you content? What does that even mean? Contentment.
Years ago, as a very young (and immature) Christian, I thought that I had reached the ever-elusive state of contentment. I had everything I wanted at the time. I had always wanted to be a homemaker and I was staying home and preparing for our first child to be born. Clothes were a passion of mine and I had worked at a clothing store until I began staying home – so I had accumulated a lot of clothes with my hefty discount. I was euphorically happy… at least I was the day I shared that little tidbit at my Bible Study Group. Oh my goodness, I did say “immature”, right??
I was not content. I was temporarily satisfied. There is a huge difference, right?
We have talked in the past about Paul’s circumstances when he wrote this letter to the church at Philippi. He was imprisoned at the time. The conditions were that if someone did not meet his needs they would not be met. So if people who cared about him did not bring him food, he would starve.
Philippians 4:10-13 (especially Verse 13) ESV
I rejoice in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.
In Verses 10-12, Paul is thanking the Philippian church for their support of his physical needs, because he has just received it. He expresses to them very clearly that he is not saying that he was in need. What he is saying, is that he has learned to be okay with whatever he has whether or not it is enough.
Can you say that? I cannot but I do hope that I am moving toward that level of maturity in my walk with the Lord.
I find one thing very interesting. He says that there is a secret to being content. What could that secret be?
Let’s look at Verse 13:
I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.
This beautiful verse is so often taken out of context. It is the last sentence in this paragraph that talks about Paul’s need and contentment, so it is definitely related to being content and having strength when you have none in your physical body.
Many people tend to take the verse and say they can do anything through His strength. He is limitless in His strength and power, however, He will only strengthen us to do the things that are in His will.
Breaking it down a little:
“I can do all things…”
What kind of things can he do? Everything he needs to according to God’s will, right?
Who? Christ Jesus Himself.
“…who gives me strength.”
So I am thinking that even if Paul had not had enough to eat that day to have the strength to walk across the room, he would have found his strength in Christ.
Have you had a time when you did not feel like you could take another step, but you were made aware of a genuine urgent need and you pushed through to help where you could? Then you can imagine what I am talking about. That may have been God infusing you with His strength and you may have had more than you realized.
But, there are definitely times when the only way we will get it done is if God intervenes with the Strength of Christ to help us.
Something else we need to think about is: What if the Philippians had not sent Paul supplies? And what if he had died because he ran out of supplies/money?
We have to know, as Paul knew, that he was in God’s hands. He trusted God that He would accomplish His perfect will in Paul’s life and in his death. If Paul no longer needed food, because he was at the end of his life then God would have taken him to heaven and he would have been with Christ.
That kind of complete trust and surrender is amazing. Paul knew God so well. We need to strive to know Him that well so that we can trust Him and be totally surrendered to Him.
Back to Contentment
Verse 13 is definitely tying back to all Paul said earlier about contentment. Knowing that he can “do all things through Him who gives him strength” is how he can be content and not worry about where his next meal is coming from or how much longer his clothes are going to last before they fall apart. His trust in Christ for everything, that is the secret to his contentment.
Knowing the Secret
What will you do with today’s verses?
Now that I know the secret to contentment is in knowing and trusting Christ for everything, I intend to work more diligently to live in contentment.
In need or abundance…
Dear Lord, thank You so much for Paul’s teaching in Philippians. Thank You that our lives can be different because You are working on us and making us more like Jesus. Help us to follow closely and be ready for You to correct us whether it is like wiping our dirty faces or open heart surgery. May we be what You want us to be. In Jesus’s name, I pray. Amen.
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