10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it.11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 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. 13 I can do all things through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4: 10-13
In this passage Paul starts out talking about resources specifically referencing money and food. He says he has learned the secret of being content in every situation. Interestingly the word “learned” is stated in the Greek in such a way that it means Paul has learned this and continually keeps on learning it. It didn’t stop, he had to repeatedly learn, or re-learn how to be content in every situation.
I find this encouraging. I see Paul as a super Christ-follower missionary and yet he was refreshingly honest with his humanity. He saw and experienced God in so many miraculous ways and he displayed such faith, but he still had to learn this over and over. We ought to give ourselves some space to learn some of the basics of our faith repeatedly. It took repetition for Paul, and may also for us.
Paul then writes how he learned how to be content whether he is well fed or hungry. He learned how to be content whether abounding in resources or in need. He gives us the “secret” in his ability to be content irrespective of circumstances.
But notice in sharing the secret he shifts to doing and he is even more comprehensive. He says I can “do all things” through him who gives me strength. He talks about his ability to “to do” and he widens the scope to everything, “all things”.
Paul points us beyond our earthly cache of resources and our sustenance, and he widens the field to include every aspect of our lives.
He points us to Christ Jesus alone. It is Jesus who gives us the strength to overcome sin in our lives, and do what we need to do as he has designed us and where he has put us. Here the word “strength” means both strong and it also encompasses the sense of being enabled. So in Jesus we are enabled and strengthened to be who he has called us to be and do what he has called us to do. This is not about resources at our disposal, and it is even in our weakness, our lack, our hunger.
So as you and I go through life, let’s continually learn and be content that our internal resources are in Christ, focusing on him and not so much the circumstances, or the material. That it is “through him” where we draw and obtain what is needed to accomplish his purposes in us and through us.
This is also said in Psalm 121: 1,2
I lift up my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from? 2 My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
Be encouraged today – you have what you need!