“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).
The apostle Paul tells us that the secret of being content is not found in what we have—though that is so often where we try to find it.
Not found in what we have
Paul could be content in every situation because his contentment was never based on things—on what he had or what he didn’t have, on what he lost or what he hoped to gain. Things come and go. Things can be purchased, acquired, received, built, earned. Things can also be stolen, broken, destroyed, burned, buried.
Things come and go. Over time or quite suddenly. Through no fault of our own or through our own negligence. Sometimes unexpectedly or sometimes the handwriting is on the wall.
Things come and go. Inflation can rise and fall—so can interest rates and gas prices and the cost of groceries. If contentment is to be found in what we have, we will never be happy—not only because what we have is always changing but also because who we are is never changing. Who we are by nature will not change this side of heaven, and by nature we are people who are discontented.
Found in whom we have
No, the secret of being content is not found in what we have. Instead, the secret of being content is found in whom we have. But whom do we have? We have a God who loves us. We have a God who provides for us. We have a God who protects us. We have a God who saved us.
We have a loving Lord who was willing to make himself nothing, who was willing to take on the very nature of a servant, who was willing to take on human flesh, who was willing to become obedient to death—even death on a cross (see Philippians 2:6-8).
We have a Good Shepherd who was willing to be the sacrificial Lamb. We have a High Priest who was willing to become a lowly offering. We have a glorious King who was willing to be scorned with shame, crowned with thorns, robed with guilt, and nailed to a cross.
In Jesus we have an innocent substitute who was punished for all that we have done wrong, who, on the cross, endured the pain of hell to earn for us the joy of heaven, and who died an earthly death to give us eternal life.
And right now, he is speaking to the Father in our defense. Right now, he is ruling all things for our spiritual and eternal good.
God has given us so much more than we ever could have asked for or imagined. He has given us himself.
Give thanks to the Lord for he is good.
Author: Stephen Helwig
Volume 110, Number 11
Issue: November 2023
- Joseph also went up
- The secret of being content
- Known for a higher hope
- Known as God’s distinctive community
- Embodying God’s calling
- Help from the Mountain Maker
- The need for a bold confession
- More than enough
- Don’t judge a book by its cover
- One for all
- I love you
- Resolving to share joy
- Miracle in the mess
- Thank God for conflict
- Plant the Seed
- The cameras are rolling
- Too many words
- Now what?
- Do you mind if I come in?
- Facts over feelings
- The most loving friendship
- The old has gone, the new is here!
- Believe the Christmas miracles
- He’s coming—really!
- Power over death
- Deliver us from evil
- Overwhelmed but not overcome
- Money talks!
- Freedom’s value is in its use
- Joyful repentance
- The world’s leading philanthropist is our friend
- Like Joseph
- But you promised!
- The church sees color
- We believe, therefore we listen
- Clarity in life from closeness to death
- Be like Jesus in forgiveness and love
- Be gentle like Jesus
- Jesus is for the birds
- Death dies on this mountain
- Repent of deception
- Resolutions of faith
- God loves the doubters
- Grieving in hope
- Personal reformation
- Be imitators of Jesus in doing good
- God’s actors
- Our shelter in God’s shadow
- God’s promised rest
- Our very great reward
- Keeping the festival
- Close enough to love
- Called to love, called to speak
- Epiphanies change everything