“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 strengthens me.” [philippians 4:11-13]
contentment. It’s not exactly something our culture values right now. hustle, progress, prosperity, the grind – do any of those sound familiar? our success is often directly measured by our situation in life.
but paul is proposing a different outlook. what if it’s actually possible to be content? to lay down the hustle and grind and to stop basing your worth on your own strength. what if contentment wasn’t about your situation in life at all, but it was based on the strength of Christ?
as a follower of Jesus we’re not guaranteed plenty or abundance or respect, the reality is that many believers do face hunger and need, and many are brought low. what we ARE guaranteed is unfettered access to the strength of Christ. so what’s the direct implication of this in the text? we can do all things. not in a humanistic sense, but in that we are capable of obedience to Christ in any situation he might place us.
we can’t do all things because of our hustle, we can’t do all things because of our prosperity…we can do all things through Christ and his strength. and so the “secret” to facing both plenty and little with contentment lies in the person of Christ.
our attitude toward our life circumstances does a good job of revealing our idols. if we’re unable to be content when we’ve been brought low, what does that reveal about where we’ve put our hope? if we well up in pride in times of abundance, to whom are we attributing the abundance?
while these verses give us an important perspective shift, they also serve as a barometer for our hearts. as believers, our circumstances should have very little bearing on our contentment. praise God for his unlimited outpouring of strength so we can face our circumstances with contentment.
“but godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.” [1 timothy 6:6-7]