Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:11–13)
The apostle Paul thanked the church at Philippi in response to their financial support. But he was quick to point out that while their gift provided for his need, it did not provide for his contentment. Contentment was found in who he had, not what he had.
Paul knew how to live humbly, and he knew how to enjoy prosperity. There were times when he could say, “I don’t believe I can eat any more,” and times when he was uncertain from where the next meal was coming. So why did his contentment never change even though his circumstances did?
He declared, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Hunger or prosperity—Paul could handle either through Christ. When we understand that truth, we understand why non-Christians are at such a loss. They have no inner strength to handle their outward circumstances.
Varied circumstances offer an opportunity for a Christian to demonstrate the contentment of a Christ-centered life. If more comes, we are grateful. If we have less, we are nonetheless satisfied. Provisions minister to our need, never to our contentment. Contentment is not found in having something we need, but through Someone we know.
Ask God for His strength to handle the moments when you have less than you need and the moments when you have more than you need. Then ask Him to use your day-to-day witness of contentment to introduce others to the Savior who is bigger than life’s circumstances.
(Note: This article originally appeared in EvanTell's 2017 online Winter issue of Toolbox. View our Toolbox archives!)