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.” -Philippians 4:12
What a simply profound statement. The apostle Paul is writing to the church in Philippi during his second missionary journey around 49-51 AD. He wants to get the point across to Christian believers that contentment is to be found in every situation, regardless of whether one is well fed or hungry. This is the key to living a well-balanced life.
Growing up, I lived in an affluent family. I never had to worry about clothes, food, or basic shelter. I had everything I wanted and more. Nevertheless, I have seen poverty first-hand.
When I was a pastor in rural Indiana, our youth group would help serve food at the homeless shelter. Within the first few minutes of opening, there would be a line that would go all the way outside and around the other side of the building. And this is in the winter when it gets cold. So people would be waiting outside in the cold just to get a warm meal. It was shocking to witness this, especially in a developed country like the United States.
But the key to this passage is not just about being content when facing poverty. It’s also about being satisfied while having plenty. The Apostle Paul echoes Solomon when he states in Proverbs 30:8, “give me neither poverty nor riches but give me only my daily bread.”
How is it that one can struggle with contentment when they have abundant wealth too? Isn’t this what most people aspire to have? You would be surprised to find out that the wealthiest people in the world are not satisfied with their possessions but simply want more.
There is an idol-making factory within humanity’s sinful soul that always wants more. That’s why in God’s infinite wisdom, He made sure to include “Do not covet” as one of the 10 commandments. He knows the human psyche and how much we struggle in the area of covetousness and contentment.
So what is the cure? The obvious answer is finding contentment in areas money can’t buy. For instance, our relationship with God is free. There isn’t enough money in this world that could afford the infinite value of having God as our companion. Plus, money can’t buy true love. Love is found in relationships. Relationships are where true contentment is found.
Therefore, the key to finding contentment is cultivating a healthy relationship with God. Praying, meditating on God’s Word, sharing the gospel, attending church, and memorizing Scripture are just a few spiritual disciplines that will help you be content. Because when you are facing trials or experiencing a season of abundance, your first source of joy should always come from the Lord. Let’s pray and ask the Lord to help us find contentment in any and every situation.
Dear heavenly Father, you are good. You are infinitely valuable. My relationship with you is the only place where contentment can be found. The world and all it’s pleasures are fading. My own flesh is fading. You, however, remain strong. You are the only source where the water never runs dry. Let us not chase after idols that will never satisfy, but look to you, the Author and Finisher of our Faith. Amen.