Content – No Matter What
10 I rejoiced 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. 11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 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. 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. 14 Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. 15 And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. 16 Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. 17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. 18 I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. 19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. 20 To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen. 21 Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me greet you. 22 All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household. 23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
There is much in this passage to commend to the Bible student but the concept that leaps out for me today is that of living in contentment, no matter the circumstance. As I examine what’s happening around me, I find that contentment is in short supply. We seem to be a people who can find a reason to be upset no matter what and that appears to be a stress inducing cultural quality. If it weren’t for discontentment, the media would have little to report on and wouldn’t that be too bad. (Not really.) And for many people, they would have little to share about their lives for they spend the bulk of their conversation on what ails them. As I ponder contentment, its opposite comes into sharp view.
Paul says that he has lived both in plenty and in poverty but in both cases he is able to live in contentment. That is truly a point of grace, for who among us can say the same? Most of the people who read this blog have not really known what it means to live without the necessities of life. My own father lived through the depression during the 1930's in the dust bowl that was the American Midwest and he can tell stories of true need. If they received an orange for as their Christmas gift that year it was a banner year. An orange! Imagine your life if receiving an orange was one of the highlights of your year. We perhaps didn’t receive the new iPad we wanted for Christmas this year and suddenly we are disappointed and discontented. I don’t want this post to be a heavy-handed slap in the mouth. But this passage really challenges me to ponder my own life and the abundant riches I possess. There is truly nothing for me to complain about and contentment with the life God has given needs to be pursued by the power of His Holy Spirit.
Paul ends his letter to Philippi with the acknowledgment that God supplies all of our needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Our greatest need is for a Savior and He has provided that in Jesus. Everything else comes through the grace of His hands and for that we give Him all the glory.