It is one of those verses that God put in the Scriptures specifically to drive engineers mad. Those of us who pride ourselves in following directions, doing things right, and solving problems… have a real challenge with these words. Maybe you do to…
The words I am referencing are referencing a hot topic for this day… the topic of contentment. In the paragraph below the Apostle Paul is thanking his readers for sending him money, or for “renewing their concern for him.” Then he speaks about contentment…
Philippians 4:10–13 (NIV) I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
When Paul writes, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances”, I am jealous of him, and zealous to learn it as well.
When he elaborates with “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.” I am all ears, needing to know what he knows so abundantly.
When he further pens “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want”, I am sitting on the edge of my chair, waiting to learn this secret, so that I can live contentment.
But then, in what seems like a cope out, he transcribes one of the most quoted or perhaps misquoted sentences of all time “ I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
It has seemed like a cope out because as Christians we believe that Jesus is ultimately the answer for all human maladies. Raise any problem and somehow, in some way, the answer, the one who will bring an answer, the one who make all things right, is Jesus. After all we proclaim him to be the “alpha and omega”, the “King of kings and Lord of lords”. He is the one, whose resurrection portends the new world, free from all that ails us!! The answer is Jesus.
But the question remains, in what way does Jesus help us find contentment? What can we do to find contentment in Jesus?
There are some hints that we find in the surrounding verses:
Praise- Philippians 4:4 (NIV) Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Focused, concerted, heart- felt praise for what Christ as done and what he will do in the future in his great rescue of us, is a great source of contentment.
Petition- Philippians 4:6 (NIV) Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Along with praise, simply ask God to help you with what you need. List and label your requests to him.
Thought control- Philippians 4:8 (NIV) 8Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Make moment by moment decisions to choose those thoughts that bring contentment.
Ministry to others-Philippians 4:17 (NIV) 17Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account. Paul had a passion for the spiritual life and growth of the church in Philippi. Nothing gets our eyes off you as effectively as looking at the needs of another, and seeing God use you to meet those needs.
When we do these things, we will often discover that our current discontent is replaced by a positive and profound encounter with the Spirit of God. The source of our discontent may well remain. But our experience of the eternal, will mitigate or even eliminate the feelings of discontent. Indeed, if God is real and currently at work, and if His presence is and will be more than satisfying, and if the eternal future is as bright as described… then our current discontent can be overwhelmed! We can learn to be content in all circumstances
Give it a try!!