Philippians 4:11, 12 - The Secret of Contentment.
Philippians 4:11, 12 " The Secret of Contentment.
Philippians 4:11, 12 (NIV) 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
These words show us that contentment is not a natural propensity
of man. Ill weeds grow apace. Covetousness, discontent, and
murmuring are as natural to man as thorns are to the soil. We need not sow
thistles and brambles; they come up naturally enough, because they are
indigenous to earth: and so, we need not teach men to complain; they
complain fast enough without any education. But the precious things of
the earth must be cultivated. If we would have wheat, we must plough
and sow; if we want flowers, there must be the garden, and all the
gardeners care. Now, contentment is one of the flowers of heaven, and if
we would have it, it must be cultivated; it will not grow in us by
nature; it is the new nature alone that can produce it, and even then we
must be specially careful and watchful that we maintain and cultivate
the grace which God has sown in us. Paul says, I have learned ...
to be content; as much as to say, he did not know how at one
time. It cost him some pains to attain to the mystery of that great
truth. No doubt he sometimes thought he had learned, and then broke
down. And when at last he had attained unto it, and could say, I
have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content, he
was an old, grey-headed man, upon the borders of the grave"a poor
prisoner shut up in Neros dungeon at Rome. We might well be willing to
endure Pauls infirmities, and share the cold dungeon with him, if we
too might by any means attain unto his good degree. Do not indulge
the notion that you can be contented with learning, or learn without
discipline. It is not a power that may be exercised naturally, but a science
to be acquired gradually. We know this from experience. Brother,
hush that murmur, natural though it be, and continue a diligent pupil
in the College of Content. [Morning and Evening by Charles H.
Are you content in any circumstances you face? Paul knew how to
be content whether he had plenty or whether he was in need. The
secret was drawing on Christ's power for strength. Do you have great
needs, or are you discontented because you don't have what you want?
Learn to rely on God's promises and Christ's power to help you be
content He will supply all your needs, but in a way that he knows is
best for you (see the note on 4:19 for more on God supplying our
needs). [Life Application SB]
Paul had learned an important secret to the Christian life -
that he could be content with whatever he had, despite his outward
circumstances. Paul had to learn this because contentment is not a natural
human response. The word content in Greek means "self-sufficient" and
independent of others. Paul used this term to indicate his independence, if
need be, of everything but Christ, since Christ was the sole source
of Paul's life (1:21; 4:13). This contrasted with the Stoic
philosophy that used the word "content" to describe a person who
impassively accepted whatever came. A Stoic view fostered self-sufficiency
to the point that all the resources for coping with life came from
within humans themselves. Paul explained that his sufficiency was in
Christ alone, who provides strength to cope with all circumstances.
(Life Application Commentary)
Paul had enjoyed power and status among his people. He had also
been imprisoned and bound in stocks in the depths of a jail cell. He
had stood before a king and been stoned almost to death by an angry
mob. Paul had enjoyed the benefits and pleasures of life, yet he
could give them all up and still be filled with the joy of the Lord.
His contentment did not depend on his environment but on his
relationship with Christ. [Experiencing God Day by Day by Henry and Richard
Blackaby re Phi.4:11]
The apostle Paul said he had "learned to be content whatever
the circumstances" (Phil. 4:11). The key word is learned. It didn't
happen overnight. In time, however, Paul could even write those words
from a prison cell. But how can we know whether we have learned this
secret? This may be the litmus test: Are you prepared to lose what you
Despite Job's grief and agony, he made this strong statement
about God: "Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him." Though he had
been staggered by blow after blow of bad news, Job took his stand on
the character of God. He believed with all his heart that God had
supplied him with all he needed. And even if God took it all away -
including life itself - Job would remain faithful. That's the real bottom
line of contentment. If tomorrow God takes away your health, your
job, or even a family member, will you hold on to hope?
Being content in You, Jesus, is all I really want. You have
given me many, many wonderful gifts, people, and opportunities. You
have filled my life to the brim - and running over. But if You choose
to remove those gifts and treasures, one by one, I will remember
all You have given me in Jesus and be content. [A Spectacle of
Glory by Joni Eareckson Tada and Larry Libby]
Rejoice in Me always! No matter what is going on, you can
rejoice in your Love-relationship with Me. This is the secret of being
content in all circumstances. So many people dream of the day when they
will finally be happy: when they are out of debt, when their children
are out of trouble, when they have more leisure time, and so on.
While they daydream, their moments are trickling into the ground like
precious balm spilling wastefully from overturned bottles.
Fantasizing about future happiness will never bring
fulfillment because fantasy is unreality. Even though I am invisible, I am
far more Real than the world you see around you. My reality is
eternal and unchanging. Bring your moments to Me, and I will fill them
with vibrant Joy. Now is the time to rejoice in My Presence!
(Philippians 4:4, 12; Psalm 102:27) [Jesus Calling by Sarah Young]
You can live as close to Me as you choose. I set up no
barriers between us; neither do I tear down barriers that you erect.
People tend to think their circumstances determine the
quality of their lives. So they pour their energy into trying to control
those situations. They feel happy when things are going well, and sad
or frustrated when things don't turn out as they'd hoped. They
rarely question this correlation between their circumstances and
feelings. Yet it is possible to be content in any and every situation.
Put more energy into trusting Me and enjoying My Presence.
Don't let your well-being depend on your circumstances. Instead,
connect your joy to My precious promises: (Phi. 4:12; Gen. 28:15; Phi.
4:19; Rom. 8:38, 39) [Jesus Calling by Sarah Young]
LINKS WORTH CHECKING OUT
Most Important Decision in Life:
Seeking God Made Real: http://vimeo.com/31489782
Prayer Made Real: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tc8VdMV26VE
LINKS FOR BIBLE STUDIES AND SEMINARS
Restoring The Power by John Bradshaw:
Glow Tract Video Bible Studies: http://www.bibleresearch.info/