Scripture Reading - Philippians 4:10-14 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my afflictions.
“I’ve got a secret." There is something fascinating about those words. Ears perk up, and people lean in as they whisper, “What is it? I won’t tell anyone.”
Religiously speaking, there are many who claim to have the “secrets” spiritual life – but they are frauds. In sharp contrast to these frauds, notice Philippians 4:12. Here Paul speaks of a genuine and important “secret”. One has called this “the only secret that we need”. Let’s look at the secret of contentment.
Paul found himself in a satisfying situation (Vs 10). What caused Paul to rejoice “greatly”? It was the Philippians’ expression of love toward him. We see, though, that Paul's happiness was not so much for the gift, but for the fact that it showed concern. Perhaps you've been taught that it's not the gift but the thought that counts. The emphasis in this section is not on things, but rather on people – not on the gift, but on the giver. The phrase “your care of (for) me” [thought, concern] in the Greek indicates continuous action in the past. They had concern for Paul, the problem was they lacked opportunity to express their concern. Paul had not been out of their thoughts, but he was out of their reach. We're not sure why the Philippians lacked opportunity to help Paul, but what ever it was it was a circumstance beyond their control. They finally overcame the problem (what ever it was), and their concern for Paul “flourished again” (revived) – coming from a Greek word meaning to again flourish and blossom. Their concern was like a barren tree in winter reviving in the spring. Their concern appeared dead – but it wasn't
Paul now makes a startling statement (Va 11, 12, 14). Paul having just said that he rejoiced in the gift of the Philippians, you might expect him to say, “after all, I really needed what you sent!” Actually, there is little doubt that he needed help. He spoke of his “affliction” in verse 14. However Paul wanted his readers to know that his rejoicing was not so much for the gift as it was for the concern it expressed. Therefore, he quickly added, “Not that I speak in respect of want” - In other words, “I am not saying this as a hint to send another gift”. It is kind of like the gifts you get from your children when they are young – they are special, not because of the gift, but because of who they came from and the love behind them.
Paul now makes a Declaration “I have learned, in whatsoever state [situation, circumstance ] I am”. These circumstances that Paul mentioned might be considered as the ups and downs of life – the good times and the bad times. There were times when Paul was in need, and times when he lived in plenty. Now here are the problems we have with the ups and downs of life: When we are down, the danger is despair – and when we are up the danger is pride. Paul didn't let the downs degrade him or the ups exalt him
Paul understood, as we should, that the circumstances of life change in a moment and that none of those circumstances define who we are. He believed that the Lord could handle anything that happened to him.
Exactly what did Paul mean when he spoke of being “content”? “Contentment” is sometimes misunderstood – it is not complacency or a false peace based on ignorance, and it is not pretending that a bad situation is a good one. To truly understand “contentment” we need to look at the Greek word. The word translated “content” in Philippians 4:11 could be more literally translated “self-sufficient”. The word was used to describe the person who, through discipline, had become independent of external circumstances, and who discovered within himself resources that were more than adequate for any situation that might arise. Paul’s satisfaction was not based on outward situations, but on inward sufficiency. This sufficiency was not based on personal resources but rather on divine resources. Notice, too, that Paul “learned” to be content. Paul is telling us that the Christian life is a learning experience. Contentment is not something that we are born with - its something we learn. How do we learn this? To start with we learn through painful experience (2 Cor 12:7-10) and earnest prayer (Philippians 4:6-7). If Paul could learn to be content, so can we.
This secret is a strengthening secret (Vs 12-13). Let's look at the “Secret”. The phrase “I learned the secret” is translated from a single Greek word meaning: “being initiated into the mysteries”. Paul’s entire life was an initiation process by which he learned the marvelous secret. What was the secret? No matter what happened, the Lord would stand by him. How awesome is that to know and have the assurance that no matter what we face, God is there? Philippians 4:13 is perhaps the most well know verse in the Bible. It's one of the first verses I learned when I got saved back in the 70's. Let's look at it more closely. “I can do” comes from the Greek word meaning strong – thus, the idea is: “I have strength for every situation” “Strengtheneth” is from a compound word in the Greek – the heart of that word is dunamis (dynamite). This passage is also in the present tense (indicating continuous action) so the passage might better read “I can continue to have strength in all things through Him who constantly gives me power”
“I can do all things” must be considered in light of its context. Not – leap tall buildings in a single bound. But, in good as well as bad situations. Our Source of strength and contentment is Jesus! Paul’s secret was Jesus! The world has not learned this. they think contentment comes from education, money, material goods. Nothing could be further from the truth. It has been my observation that the more you have, the more you want.
Are you content? If not, get into Jesus. Jesus, and He only, is our true Source of contentment.
Until next time...enjoy the journey!
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