A study of Philippians 4:10-13 reveals that contentment is learned, involves a learning process of experiencing a little and a lot, and that God strengthens you for all things.
A study of Philippians 4:10-13 reveals that contentment is learned
V.11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.
The drive to accumulate things can consume us. Fueled by the desire for pleasure, ease, and comfort. It quickly becomes greed with an insatiable appetite. And it begs the question: how much is enough? When will I find contentment?
And Paul’s answer might surprise you. Because you don’t find contentment. You learn it.
Of course, the Bible doesn’t condemn hard work or the accumulation of wealth. In fact, wealth in scripture is often associated with God’s blessing. So where does contentment fit in?
The Greek word for “content” is autarkēs and means both content and sufficient.
In Greek stoic philosophy, contentment was considered something you passively accepted. Since your circumstances are part of God’s will, you might as well accept them in resignation. But Paul takes another approach.
A study of Philippians 4:10-13 reveals that the learning process involves experiencing a little and a lot
v.12 I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.
Paul experienced times when he had very little and times when he had a lot. And it was an extreme, education curriculum. Because he was beaten, whipped, thrown in prison, and shipwrecked to name a few difficult experiences. And right now you’re probably saying if that’s what it takes to learn contentment, I’d rather remain ignorant.
However, maybe your learning process can avoid those extremes. And involve self-discipline instead. One simple decision my wife and I made early in our marriage was to pay off our credit card bills each month and not build consumer debt. This made us control our spending and say no to some purchases. And we learned to either wait until we had the money or live without some things.
We also learned to express an attitude of gratitude. And regularly thank God for His provision. The more you do, the more it takes root in your heart.
REFLECT AND RECORD
What are some lessons you’ve learned about contentment? Describe the circumstances. Where do you still struggle and explain why? What disciplines should you consider or adjustments should you make?
A study of Philippians 4:10-13 reveals that God strengthens you for all things
V.13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
The Greek word for strengthen is ĕndunamŏō, and means to empower, enable, increase in strength, and make strong
A unique feature of the Christian faith is that it admits human weakness. No one has it all together. Or is completely self-reliant. And to pretend you are is either an attempt to fool others or fool yourself.
Even the great men of faith admitted their inadequacies. David cries out for help and identifies where it comes from in Psalms 121. Solomon talks about the importance of supportive friends. And Paul explains how God’s power is demonstrated through his weakness.
There are times we all need the support of others. And it’s okay to ask for it.
Where do you need God’s strength right now? James 4:2 reminds you it’s important to ask. So take a moment and ask God to provide the strength for what you’re encountering.
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