“I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:12-13
“My life would be better if…” Stop. Take a deep breath. Exhale. Think about that statement. Would your life really be better if you received what it is you long for so desperately? Would contentment really exist? How long would that contentment last? What happens when you grow discontented with it? What’s the secret?
Everyday advertisers bombard our lives with the latest and greatest product that should make our lives easier and better. People search everywhere to find that secret to having a fulfilled life. Every product should come with a disclaimer, “This product will no longer give happiness and contentment once it is used”. Some search for contentment in wealth. Some search for it in fame. Others search for it in the “perfect look”. Still others look for it in relationships. Just ask Solomon. He searched for it in everything under the sun but only found it useless. Many today find what Solomon discovered back then is still true today.
Paul had discovered the secret to contentment. He experienced definite financial hardships and material need. He also knew what it meant to have an abundance. He had learned how to live with humble means, as well as, how to live in prosperity. Paul discovered the secret to handling all of life’s issues, bad or good. The secret in his life was the strength provided to him through Christ. His relationship with God empowered him to live contented in whatever circumstances he found himself. Even the hard ones.
Philippians is known as a “prison epistle” because Paul wrote it while being chained to a Roman guard around the clock. He was under house arrest where every movement and moment of his life was an open book. Everything he did and said was seen and heard by Roman guards. Truly every move he made someone was watching him. Could you or I be content with that? Paul had experienced great physical pain through unjust beatings. He was even left for dead. Could you or I be content in those circumstances? The answer is yes.
The secret to being content in all circumstances is not really a secret at all. The word Paul uses here for being content means “self-sufficient”. The people of Paul’s day used it to mean a human self-reliance and fortitude. It was seen as a calm acceptance of life and its pressures. Paul used it here to describe a heavenly sufficiency. He is not saying that he is unmoved by circumstances. Afterall, as humans we are reactionary. We do respond to life in some way. He is saying that even in sorrow and joy, he finds contentment. True contentment is a result of our relationship with Jesus Christ. True contentment comes when we trust God. When we seek contentment in other people or things something happens that destroys that contentment. However, when we focus on our relationship with God and live to please Him that is where we find contentment. The circumstances that beset us become minimal compared to pleasing God. That is strength that Jesus supplies.
Doing all things through Christ changes our vocabulary. As believers we can no longer say the words “I can’t” in reference to obedience. When we discover how God wants us to live and our response is “I can’t do that. It is too difficult”, what we are really saying is “I won’t do that”. In every circumstance, whether it is easy or difficult, God gives us the strength to carry out what He desires. Whatever needs to be done can be done for we are in Christ. No doubt Paul remembered what God said to him in 2 Corinthians, “My grace is sufficient”. By God’s power, all things can be accomplished.
At this point I must ask you “Do you have a relationship with Christ?” Jesus died on the cross, was buried and rose again the third day to provide you with eternal life. This free gift is yours. All you must do is repent of your sins, ask God to forgive you and make Jesus the Master of your life. Only after you become a child of God can you experience the contentment and strength Jesus supplies. Only then can you begin to comprehend how to handle life with peace and satisfaction. For the believer, are you lacking the contentment that God promises? Are you handling life seeking to please God?
How do you respond in sorrow? Are you finding your sufficiency in Christ? Are you struggling to do that which you know God wants you to do? The same Spirit that indwelt Paul and moved him to pen those words is the same Spirit that indwells you. You can be obedient to God no matter how difficult your circumstances. It is God who equips you to handle life and its pressures. He is your sufficiency.
Doing all things, even hard things, is possible through the strength only God supplies in Christ Jesus.
To God be the glory.