But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction.
– Philippians 4:10-14 NASB (emphasis added)
Knowing that fear and greed are the extremes to which Satan is always seeking to push us, it’s easy to recognize that contentment is the broad place we want to reside. Contentment is not greedy for gain; neither is it fearful of loss.
In closing his letter to the believers in the city of Philippi, the apostle Paul is expressing his thanks for their financial help but also, especially in this passage, explaining his attitude toward such matters.
Notice that Paul says he learned to be content. In other words, he was not always this way. Contentment did not come naturally to him. Remember that Jesus wants disciples – that is, learners, pupils. Not know-it-all’s. If Paul can learn godly character traits, we can, too.
Notice also that the contentment Paul has learned to practice is independent of circumstances. He says he knows how to be content when he has little, and he also knows how to be content when he has a lot. He says he can do this “through Him who strengthens me.” Paul is acknowledging the One who taught Him this commitment to contentment, for there can’t be a disciple without there being a teacher. Jesus said:
“Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’…But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
– Matthew 6:31-33 NASB
Think of greed as the ditch on one side of the road and fear as the ditch on the other. The road to walk is contentment. This is the Jesus way.
(Remember that prayer is more about listening than talking. Use the words below to start yourself, but then allow time to reflect more on the Scripture above before you say the “Amen.” During that time of quiet reflection, let God shape your thoughts and wait for a sense of peace to come. That’s your signal to say “Amen” and go forth to the day.)
Lord Jesus, thank You for promising me all the provision I need if I will only seek first Your kingdom and Your righteousness today….(this is where you remain quiet in order to let Him work in your thoughts)… Amen.