…I have learned how to be content [and self-sufficient through Christ, satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or uneasy] regardless of my circumstances. I know how to get along and live humbly [in difficult times], and I also know how to enjoy abundance and live in prosperity. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret [of facing life], whether well-fed or going hungry, whether having an abundance or being in need. I can do all things [which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me [to fulfill His purpose – I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency; I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace.] (Philippians 4:11b-13 The Amplified Bible)
Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:4-7 NIV)
Paul’s words, “I have learned to be content” had locked themselves in my mind 40 years ago. As I’ve pondered his words and read lists of the different circumstances that he lived through before he wrote the letter to the Philippians, I am in awe that he could say that. Especially, since in Acts 9:15 Jesus tells Ananias that, “I will show him, Saul (Paul) how much he must suffer for my name.” So Paul not only experienced suffering as it came; he was shown beforehand what to expect.
While “I have learned” appears as a past tense and gives the impression that he has mastered , “contentment/sufficiency in Christ”, what I see is that for him it is: I have, I am, and I will be continuing to learn to be content as I am strengthened in Christ.
So, how about me? How can I learn to be content in the needs, desires, and circumstances of my life? I find encouragement in Apostle Paul’s message, “Not that I’ve already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” (Philippians 3:12). Jesus’ call on my life is simply to follow him!
For a long time, one of my favorite scriptures has been Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself also in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart”. Over the years I have come to realize that if I am delighting in the Lord, the Lord IS the desire of my heart! Then I begin to learn and live into the desires of his heart.
Each morning, along with the Lord’s prayer, I sing a little prayer that came from Richard of Chichester in the thirteenth century. “Day by day, day by day, O, dear Lord three things I pray: To see thee more clearly; Love thee more dearly; Follow thee more nearly, Day by day,
What about you? What can you do to learn to be content in Christ’s sufficiency in your daily life? Take some time and read Paul’s letter to the Philippians. Write down what you see as encouragement from Paul’s life to yours in learning how to be content.