In Philippians 4:11-13 Paul says, "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." As I read over the oft quoted phrase in verse 13 two things stood out to me.
First, the earlier verses dwell on finding contentment whether we have much or little. I realized that sometimes I find it easier to keep God on the forefront of my thoughts when I am in one of those extremes. When things "abound" I see God's blessing in a tangible way and I praise Him. When I feel abased, I recognize my great need for reliance on Him and I flee to Him often for strength. However, then there are all of the in between days -- where I actually live most of the time. Somewhere in between tragedy and excess I must still find contentment, and daily reliance on Him.
Even in the everyday of runny noses and cooking meals and grading school work. In the humdrum of life I need to remember that I need Him and that He is blessing. That is the secret of contentment -- relying on Him even when we don't feel like we "need" Him, and recognizing His blessing even when it doesn't seem to be overflowing.
Secondly, I was reminded that the flow of this passage teaches about learning contentment in a wide spectrum of situations through Christ. Don't know why I often skimmed over that. We like to focus on the "all things are possible" part of the verse. I was reminded of this in a song we sang at church today. That phrase was repeated over and over, but we need to make sure we finish it.
All things are not possible on our own. Not in our own strength, not with our eyes on our present circumstance, not with worldly wisdom, not without faith, obedience, and a relationship with Jesus Christ.
I need to keep my focus on the "through Christ" part of my life, even in the everydayness of my life.
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.