September 17, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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“But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.”—Philippians 4:10–11 (NKJV)
As Paul brings his letter to a close, he acknowledges the Philippians had cared for him as he was being held as a prisoner of Rome. Earlier in the epistle, we learned this church had taken up an offering on his behalf and sent it off to him with one of their own members named Epaphroditus, who stayed to help take care of Paul’s needs (Philippians 2:25–30). Before closing, Paul wanted them to know their generosity towards him brought him great joy.
But Paul immediately clarifies that his joy wasn’t over the actual gift they gave. In just a few verses, he’s going to tell them why he was so blessed by their offering. With all of the abuses of spiritual authority Paul had seen over the years, he wanted to make it very clear that it wasn’t about the money, because he had come to a place in life where he had learned to be perfectly content.
To be “content” is to be completely at peace with one’s substance. Perhaps the best way of understanding it is by considering its opposite, covetousness. We all know the deep desire to possess something we don’t already have. It occupies our thoughts and has the power to influence our actions. How many bad decisions have we made with covetousness in the driver’s seat of our soul? But contentment is total freedom from that, and it’s what enabled Paul to faithfully serve the Lord without abusing his authority or manipulating others into giving what they shouldn’t.
We should all want to know how Paul learned this state of contentment, because we should all want to live in the same state of freedom. How did he do it?
A lot of Paul’s life (and a lot of our lives) is a matter of learning to let go and live open-handedly before God. Over time, Paul came to the realization that he wasn’t in control of things like he thought. God was in control, and he learned to release his life and entrust himself into the Lord’s hands. Each day became an exercise in living with an open-handed attitude, knowing that whatever God chose to put in his hands was to be received and used to serve and glorify Him. If that meant an abundance, then it was to be used to the Lord’s glory. If that meant next to nothing, then it was to be used to the Lord’s glory. With this open-handed attitude, it wasn’t about the actual substance but the stewardship of the substance that mattered. It wasn’t about the money, it was about the Master!
Can the same be said of us? Do we wake up each morning with open hands, willing to receive and steward whatever the Lord chooses to place in them for His glory? Or are we under the curse of covetousness, constantly driven by desires that are never satisfied? Lord helps us to learn and live as Paul did.
Pause: What was it all about with Paul and why?
Practice: Discover how you can you apply these principles so you can follow Paul’s example.
Pray: Father, I confess I’m often driven through this life by covetousness. Please help me and free me from this way of life by seeing my life as a channel to glorify You by. May I know contentment as I live with open hands and as a steward of the blessings You give to me, regardless of how much or how little. Let me find peace in using it for Your sake. Amen.
Pastor Dan Hickling serves our online community, also known as the Calvary Chapel Online Campus. He and his wife Becky have been married for 22 years and have two children, Lauren and Danny. Both Dan and Becky have been part of the CCFL church family for 22 years and have served in full time ministry for 20 of those years.