I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. Philippians 4:11 (NIV).
In 1 Timothy 6, Paul also writes “godliness with contentment is great gain.” Those are powerful words that illuminate both what Paul is saying here in Philippians 4 AND what’s going on in our world today?
Here in the good old US of A, have you been to the store lately? Have you seen what hoarding and panic and “me-first” and, yes, stupidity look like? Christ (through Paul) tells us to be content with what we have. I suppose there are many, many people who are now content with a closet full of Charmin or a trunk full of hand sanitizer. I sort of hope they’re stuck with it when all this ends soon. I also know many more folks who know things will be just fine.
No matter where you are, however, it doesn’t seem like we’re very content, either to live in want or to live in plenty. And let’s keep it real: here in the land of prosperity, we aren’t really living in want. We’re in danger of temporary shortages because of foolish panic, but, so far, there aren’t that many people who are lacking much of anything.
So how do we get back to that “being content whatever the circumstances?” Maybe we should take a cue from Paul, who denied himself most material comforts and rested his pride in being thankful for whatever he was given. Yes, he encouraged his friends in churches all around the Mediterranean to give generously so that people like himself could continue their work. Yet Paul also understood that it was Christ, not others, who ultimately determined Paul’s contentment.
That knowledge opened wide the door to peace. After all, it becomes easier to live through almost anything when you realize that this Jesus has your back. This Jesus, who happens to be God Almighty Himself and the Savior of all the world, takes a personal interest in making sure people like you, me, and the Apostle Paul have what He knows we need. Sometimes that’s a lot; sometimes not so much. It ALWAYS includes Himself.
No matter what’s happening, it becomes easier to remember we can be content because God will provide…because He always does. He is providing now, even when things are getting scary. Remember: many, many more times in history were far scarier than now. Think AD70 in Jerusalem; or the 1300s in Europe during the Black Plague. Think April of 1861, or July 1914; there are only a few people left who would remember that. Think December 1941, of October of 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis. God was with people then. He’s with us now. Let’s be content with that and the rest will all fall into place.
For further reading: 1 Timothy 6:6-8, Hebrews 13:5, Philippians 4:12.
Lord Jesus, I’m content with You. All with which You bless me is Yours to give.