READ PHILIPPIANS FOUR
Paul turns from rejoicing for the Philippians practical expression of their partnership in the Gospel to reflecting on his own ministry. Even though the Philippians met a need in his own life (likely, a financial need), Paul says that he was not “wanting.”
Look at Philippians 4:11-12. How does Paul describe his experience? Can you think of any experiences that you know of in the life of Paul that he might have in mind as he writes this? (Hint: remember the situation of the writing from our first week of study)
What has he learned through his experiences?
Paul has experienced a great deal – poverty and riches, a full belly and an empty stomach, imprisonment and freedom. And the astounding thing he has learned in all of them is contentment. Think of how differently this would read if Paul said, “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In every situation I’ve learned how to look on the bright side.” Or, if he had said, “In every low situation I’ve learned how to get to higher ground.” No, Paul has neither empty optimism or a propensity for prosperity. While I’m sure in every low situation Paul prayed that God would bring him out, God didn’t do that. Instead, God taught Paul contentment.
What would contentment look like in your own life?
Think of some low times in your life – what would it look like to learn contentment in that season?
Think of some times of abundance in your life – what would it look like to learn contentment in that season?
What kind of season are you in right now? How can you invite God to be at work in your heart to teach you contentment in your current situation?
On the heels of reflecting on what he has learned in low times and times of abundance, Paul writes this: I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. This verse is so often quoted by Christian sports teams or Christian entrepreneurs, but there is not a whiff of “success” in view here!
When Paul says “all things,” what does the immediate context of this verse indicate he has in mind?
Paul is able to suffer and abound because Christ gives him strength! Paul is able to seek contentment even while he writes from a prison cell, because Christ gives him strength! Paul is united to the Christ who suffered on the cross, so Paul can suffer, too. Paul is united to the Christ who rose from the dead, so Paul can be content in abundance. Paul has learned to be content in all situations – high and low – why? Because Christ is his strength.
How can the strength of Christ teach you to be content in every situation you face? In your situation today?
PRAY & REFLECT
Thank God that Christ is your strength! Ask Him to to teach you to look to Him in every season. Ask Him to mold your heart into a heart of contentment, no matter what season of life you find yourself in.