Have you ever been drawn into an infomercial or found yourself awed by the sales pitch on a home shopping station? Basically, people you have never met before are telling you how miserable your life is without their product. They are trying to convince you that you cannot be satisfied until their product is on your kitchen counter. By the way, express pay and free shipping will supposedly fill your emptiness even quicker! The sad reality is, when we make these purchases they often end up in the graveyard of unused gadgets—the garage. Some of our cars won’t fit in the garage because of the treadmill or ab cruncher that promised to make us into a fitness magazine model. Unfortunately, we find ourselves back again on the hamster wheel of dissatisfaction.
Maybe your pursuit of satisfaction is not found in possessions but in people or position. In the story of Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well, Jesus identified her revolving door of relationships as evidence of her thirst unquenched. She already had five husbands and the man she was living with was not her husband. Her relationships were not enough to quench her deepest desire. Others believe that notoriety or greater position would be the magic wand for satisfaction. If position was all we needed, then someone needs to explain the frontline news stories over the past year. Movie stars, politicians, and the rich and famous have fallen from their positions because stardom, wealth and power proved to lack what they were looking for. They pursued other means to fill a void and still came up empty.
Can we really be content? If so, how?
The apostle Paul shares the answer in his letter to the church at Philippi. He writes: Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me (Philippians 4:11-13). I hope you caught Paul’s secret: Contentment is learned! He learned in times of abundance and in times of poverty to be content.
Every situation is a teacher. Sometimes we become complacent when everything is going our way and complain when we travel through life’s valleys.
But, what would happen if we viewed every moment in life as a chance to learn something about God and ourselves?
Paul celebrated seasons of abundance, but he also praised God during moments of weakness. In 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, Paul writes: Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. He makes this declaration right after Christ said to him, “My grace is sufficient for you and my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Possessions come and go; positions do not last. People will let you down. Paul learned that contentment is found in Christ and Christ alone. Jesus Christ gives us the strength we need to face each circumstance. The word strength in Philippians 4:13 comes from the Greek root word, dynamoo. It’s where we get our English word dynamite. During the years I lived in the mountains of Western North Carolina I would pass signs that said, “Blasting Zone.” In order to expand roads in the area, construction crews would literally have to move mountains. When dynamite impacted a mountain, it was never the same again. In the same way, when we receive Christ as our Savior, we are never the same again. We learn we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength. Not by our own strength, but by the dynamite power given through Christ.
Additionally, the Greek word for content means self-sufficient. Philosophers during that time period used content to teach that you had everything you needed inside of you, independent of outward circumstances. Paul wasn’t at all implying he had the ability to survive on his own, but Christ in him was all he needed. It wasn’t about self-sufficiency, but Christ-sufficiency. Being inwardly satisfied with Christ equips you to navigate the external roller coaster called life. I’ve observed through years in ministry that people will trust Christ for saving grace, but won’t rely on Him for sustaining grace. When Paul writes, I can do all things through him who strengthens me, he isn’t talking about receiving a blank check to get what he wants. He’s declaring that he can handle anything that comes his way through Christ’s strength.
Paul goes deeper into this truth in Philippians 4:19-20: And my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen. Paul learned from experience that Almighty God is the source and supplier of everything we need. Paul also teaches us that Christ-sufficiency is...
Paul refers to God as my God. God is not some distant deity uninterested in our needs. He is our loving, personal God who cares for us.
Paul acknowledges that God will provide when he writes, my God will supply. He doesn’t meet all of our greed, but God always provides for our needs. We can trust God. He will supply what we need at just the right time.
God will supply every need of yours. Even in our darkest hour, we will never lack what we need.
Paul writes that our needs are met according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. That’s powerful.
Let’s not waste another moment thinking that things or people will bring us contentment. Only Christ can meet our every need here on earth and for all of eternity.
To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.
Dr. Ryan Pack has been the Senior Pastor of Riverland Hills Baptist Church in Columbia, SC since the summer of 2017. He is married to Heather, and they are the proud parents of four children.