Paul founded the church of Philippi during his second missionary journey (Acts 16:1-40). Later, possibly while in Rome, he wrote to the church from prison. As with any letter, Paul conveys several messages to the people to whom he writes, but for this post let us concentrate on his message of contentment.
In chapter four Paul writes of his thanksgiving. He expresses his thanks for their concern. Then the verses that have often made me wonder, "I am not saying this because I am need, for I have learned to be content in any circumstance. I have experienced times of need and times of abundance. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of contentment, whether I go satisfied or hungry, have plenty or nothing." (Phil. 4:11-12, NET Bible)
Paul knows how to be content? Even in jail?!! I don't know a lot about prisons, but this was, after all somewhere around 49 AD, anywhere you were would be far below any 21st century American standards. I imagine the jail situation was not pleasant.
Yet, Paul used the word autarkhs which means sufficiency or contentment. What can he possibly mean?
We live in a society where more is better. The one with the biggest toys wins. There is always a bigger, better, more modern house, car, computer, cell phone, etc. Even if you have no desire to upgrade to something new, then corporate America forces our participation if we are to keep doing the things we have become accustomed to doing. For example, by February 19, 2009 any home relying on broadcast TV will be forced to have a digital converter to receive these stations. An analog TV will be obsolete.
How can we find contentment when we are never satisfied?
Where does contentment come from? Look back at Philippians. Paul says, "I am able to do all things through him who strengthens me." (Phil. 4:13, NET Bible) Is he saying it is not all about us? Not about what WE can do? Our contentment is not about our achievements and abilities?
Isaiah 40:31, NET Bible "But those who wait for the Lord's help will find renewed strength..."
God gives us the strength to live day by day. He gives us the strength to not only survive, but be content--no matter what comes!
His Grace is sufficient for me.