“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).I think every commercial email list I am on graciously reached out to me on Cyber Monday appealing for me to purchase something. Subject lines like “Cyber Monday deals”, “Don’t Wait Until Tomorrow – Select Offers END TONIGHT!”, “Hurry! Cyber Deals are going fast”, “Today Only: An Incredible Deal”. I refrained from any Cyber Monday purchases but Brooksyne did make a purchase from Christian Book Distributors!
In yesterday’s message we considered a solemn command from Jesus recorded in Luke 12:15, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” The antidote to greed is contentedness.
Contentment certainly won’t be found among the material gifts available this year, so you won’t hear a sales pitch on a television commercial nor will you read about how to purchase it in the newspaper. Nevertheless it is a treasure that will be of greater value than any gift youwill receive. The teaching of Scripture is always relevant on this topic and every other topic.
In today’s text the apostle Paul states, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.” What an interesting perspective and one which most of us share, though likely not to the same degree as Paul.
“I know what it is to be in need.” Paul doesn’t specify the degree of need here but elsewhere we read of his ministry experiences, “I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure” (2 Corinthians 11:27). Some of our readers may have experienced need to this extent but I suspect most of us have not. Quite honestly in my life, so often “being in need” would mean not getting what I wanted!
But Paul also wrote, “I know what it is to have plenty.” It’s a little bit harder to find an example of Paul having plenty in the Scriptural record but I consider a brief association that Paul had following a shipwreck (when he was in great need).On the island of Malta he met a man named Publius who had lands and was a leading man of the island. Publius hosted Paul and his traveling companions for three days. I believe it’s reasonable to assume that Publius was a man of wealth and for these several days Paul knew what it was like to have plenty.
When they departed the island we read, “They also honored us with many marks of respect; and when we were setting sail, they supplied us with all we needed.” (This account is in Acts 28.) Most of us know what’s it’s like to have plenty but the tendency to compare ourselves with those who have more may blind us to this reality!
Paul completes this verse by stating, “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.” Fundamentally, the state of contentment is not based on what we have (or lack of it). Nor is it based on how much we have (or how little)! Paul’s secret is now out and has been since he wrote this passage. He had learned to be content “in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” The question for each of us is “Have we learned this?” If we have not, how do we acquire such an attitude?
God wants us to take proper steps to develop and nurture godly contentment so that we will find true and lasting satisfaction, in times of plenty and in times of want. A great key to this is Peter’s words: “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness” (2 Peter 1:3). Remember, “The Secret Is Being Content!”
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, help us to prayerfully apply Your Scriptures so that we can learn to be content in any and every situation. A godly contentment will fill our hearts with peace regarding our station in life in place of an anxious heart that struggles to acquire the latest gadget, belong to an affluent group we can’t afford, or strives to keep up with the Joneses. Help us to fix our eyes on You, not on that which we see others possess as we pursue contentment through our knowledge of You who supplies us with everything we need. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.