“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.” Phil. 4:12
As we come to the precipice of a new year, I often think of a section of one of Paul’s inspired letters. He speaks to us through the Bible that he had “…learned to be content whatever the circumstance.” (Phil. 4:11).
This is a fascinating statement, especially from Paul given his circumstances at the time. He was in jail because of his stance for God’s Gospel. This stance placed him in jail. He was not in a comfortable office planning lessons and activities. He was in a circumstance that could have encouraged frustration, anger and aggravation.
To the contrary, Paul teaches these Christians (and us today) how to be content in the midst of intense aggravation.
Let’s look at some of the phrases the Holy Spirit utilizes through Paul’s writing. “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…” “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Phil. 4:12,13)
Paul calls this lifestyle something that is “learned”. He utilizes a word that describes a person that is literally in a classroom. God places each of us in a classroom of life and “teaches us” how to be content.
Are you a good, eager student toward God’s teaching and discipling? I ask you that imagine you are in a seat and God is at the front of the room next to the white board instructing you how to be “content.”
And yet, this classroom is life. Every moment, every engagement with people and every circumstance (however we perceive them) is God’s classroom to instruct us in how to learn contentedness.
Paul calls this endgame of learning contentment a secret. It is not a secret like humans use the term. This is a mindset and an awareness that is only “learned” and “understood” by living it. This is not understood by peaceful “Bible study” (although that is where the direction and wisdom is received). This secret is only known by being in challenging, frustrating and compromising situations.
What situations might you be in now or you can look back on in which God desired to teach you contentedness? You found yourself in the “learning to be content” classroom. Was it attractive? Was it fun and enjoyable?
Paul found it deeply valuable because it enabled him to be constantly faithful to God in all situations. There was no “fiery dart” from Satan that could cause problems for Paul because Paul continued to learned contentedness from God. By Andrew Burns