Philippiansby David Sanford
In today's verses, Paul bares his heart of love and thanksgiving for the Philippians. He also encourages them to follow his example in being content in every circumstance.
First, Paul urges them to consider his life and teachings. By putting them into practice, he says, ″the God of peace will be with you″ (Philippians 4:9). This is the second great way to experience God's peace, coming on the heels of Paul's instructions to pray with thanksgiving (vv. 6-7).
Second, Paul expresses his joy for the gifts from the Philippians, brought by Epaphroditus. The gifts showed that ″you renewed your concern for me″ (v. 10). Paul quickly adds that he knew they had always been concerned, but for years didn't have a way to show it.
Third, Paul states two sides of the same coin. On one hand, he denies writing the previous verse because of need. On the other, he affirms that, ″I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances″ (v. 11).
Like other Pharisees, Saul (Paul's Jewish name) was probably a wealthy man who loved money (see Luke 16:14). As an apostle, however, Paul repeatedly lost his possessions to theft, riots, imprisonment, and shipwreck. As a result, ″I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked″ (2 Corinthians 11:23-27). Therefore, Paul consistently worked hard to provide for his own needs and those of others (Acts 18:3; Ephesians 4:28; 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15).
This is not theory. Paul lived it out-for decades. My wife and I have, too. Due to an unprecedented financial collapse in the United States and the unjust actions of three corporations, we lost everything: our company, accumulated wealth, and home. But we had already memorised, meditated on, and applied these four verses. As a result, we weren't consumed by anxiety, anger, or bitterness. Instead, we experienced deep contentment throughout that experience and its aftermath. What Paul lived out, we can too.
It's clear that Paul isn't against wealth: ″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). Like him, we experience deep contentment when our daily focus is worshipping, obeying, and living for the Lord. If I could give one gift to every Christian, it would be this conviction: ″Godliness with contentment is great gain″ (1 Timothy 6:6).
Godliness is thanking God for who He is and living with the conviction that He is enough. In this context, what does ″enough″ mean to you?
Do you know anyone who has demonstrated godly contentment over the years? What has their example taught you?