“There are moments when I wish I could roll back the clock and take all the sadness away, but I have the feeling that if I did, the joy would be gone as well.” (Nicholas Sparks, A Walk to Remember) As we conclude our study of the term JOY in Paul’s epistle to the Philippians, we are looking at his sixteenth (and last) use of that term this morning.
10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (ch. 4)
There is so much here that we can learn from the Apostle Paul! He is JOYFUL that the Colossian believers are able to help him financially, but their assistance gives him the opportunity to talk about contentment.
Notice the intensity of Paul’s REJOICING: “I rejoiced greatly in the Lord”! His rejoicing is not specifically in the material support the Colossian believers are providing for him. His JOY is in the Lord. And he expresses his REJOICING as “greatly.”
Second, notice the context of his REJOICING: Paul has learned a secret, the secret of being content whatever one’s material condition might be! Whether in need or in plenty, Paul has learned something of extreme value — to be content. His contentment is there whether he is well fed or hungry, living in plenty or in want. The critical issue isn’t his circumstances, but where Paul puts his focus — on the One “who gives me strength.”
Contentment isn’t resignation. It isn’t a kind of stoic grit-your-teeth and toughen your way through life. Biblical contentment is JOYFUL trust in the Sovereign One who oversees us in our lack or abundance. That’s Paul’s focus.
Thank you for staying with me for this study. If you think I should take these posts and write a more extensive, but short, book on this topic, please leave me a comment. Blessings. Larry