“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.” – Philippians.4:11-13
Have you ever considered how our desires are never ending list of things we would like to have or do? How often during that long journey do we stop and give thanks, how often do we say ‘I’m happy with what I have’? When we pass from grade one we pray hard and long to pass grade 2 all the way till we complete our education. One moment we are praying for bread and following that we pray for jam. We often find ourselves constantly stretching for something we haven’t got. The problem is not wanting to do well and improve your quality of life, but when we start to be blind to what we have and complain about what we don’t, therein lies the spirit of ungratefulness.
Paul was a man who endured all hardship, more that what we could imagine. Often he went hungry without food and lacked all the basic human needs. Yet in those moments he learnt to be content. Sometimes he was supported by kind brothers and sisters and didn’t lack anything, other times he laboured to earn his living so that he wasn’t in want. In those moments too he was content.
What does it mean to be content in plenty? Two things: As we discussed above, we could want many other things even though we just received what we were longing for. The other is knowing how to use the plenty God has provided you with. Surely wisdom is required even in plenty. Joseph knew that during the 7 years of plenty they needed to save some for the years of drought (Genesis.41). Its about not setting your heart in what you have but in the One who provides.
What was Paul’s secret to contentment in every season?
Paul knew that whatever the circumstance, God was with him. Paul’s desire was solely God and His glory, so that earthly gain or wanting didn’t matter. Paul understood that God’s Sovereignty was greater than what he was facing- good or bad. He fully believed that God can give him all the best things and that God can also bring beauty out of the ashes. That’s why he always had a reason to praise, even when chained in a prison cell. (Philippians.4:4)
“Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.” – Psalm.73:23-26
“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.” – 1 Tim.6:6-7