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 everything through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:11-13)
I can’t tell you how many times throughout my life that I have read through these verses and not really given them any deeper thought other than thinking that Jesus gives me strength to do whatever it is I need to do. While that’s true, there’s something far deeper here than that.
Paul is one of the most powerful and influential people we find in Scripture, especially the New Testament. He goes from the extreme of murdering Christians to boldly proclaiming the name of Christ everywhere he went. Talk about a life change! What I find most appealing about Paul is how strength didn’t just come naturally to him.
One word here really sums this whole passage up, “learned”. As strong and bold as Paul was, there was so much learning he had to do before he became content. That’s a big word for us these days, “content”. Who is content? Are you? You may quickly mutter “yes”, but I would caution you before doing so. Look at your life and what you have and what you don’t have. Are you satisfied and happy with what God has given you even if there are some things you’d like to have, but don’t have now?
Paul really learned how to be content, whether he had much or very little. But that didn’t come easy. He had to learn through some very rough times. It’s all a part of learning and growing. None of us are perfect about it. However, if we continue to learn and grow and base our joy and strength on God and not what the world offers, we will truly learn how the Lord becomes our only source of joy and strength.
We all certainly need to learn how to be content, no matter the circumstances. I know I do! Being content is a daily struggle for me and I’m sure it’s for you all as well. For Paul, the joy of the Lord certainly became his strength. He was content, but it was only after years of growing through good and difficult times. We must learn and grow to be content with whatever we have or whatever we don’t have. The joy of the Lord should be our strength and we should be content with what He’s given to us. —Zach Wood