September 24, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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“For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 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. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”—Philippians 4:11–13 (NIV, emphasis added)
Yesterday, we learned what the fruit of faithfulness looks like. At its core, faithfulness is unwavering reliability, consistency, devotion, and loyalty. Consider the common marriage vows you hear at weddings: “For better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part.” The idea here is fidelity and perseverance in any and everything; it’s faithfulness regardless of what comes our way.
We also learned that walking in faithfulness to God can only be done by the work of God in us. 1 Corinthians 1:8 (NIV) tells us that the Lord Himself will “keep [us] firm to the end.” As the Holy Spirit works in us, He makes us faithful. He gives us His faithfulness, which allow us to endure and persevere through any and everything.
This brings us to today’s passage where I want to show you how faithfulness is the result of contentment. Something interesting to note here is that Paul uses two different Greek words that we translate as content in Philippians 4:11–12.
Autarkēs (v11): to be self-sufficient. It’s an active term, but it’s also an inward term. This means Paul’s not talking about being self-sufficient in his ability to take care of himself, which would be outward. Instead, it’s this inward feeling of satisfaction he actively lives with.
Chortazesthai (v12): to be totally full, lacking nothing. It’s the same word we see in Mark 8 after Jesus fed the 5,000 (“the people ate and were satisfied”). It’s the type of feeling you get when you throw down an epic meal, finish a 1,000-piece puzzle, or move into a new house and finally unpack everything.
Now, the interesting thing about chortazesthai is unlike autarkēs, it’s a passive verb, which means we’re the receivers of the work, not the doers. Philippians 4:13 (NIV) tell us: “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” I love the literal word-for-word translation from the Greek: “For all things, I have strength in the One strengthening me.”
Basically, like how a phone plugged into a power source never runs out of battery, when we’re connected to Christ through intimate relationship, He provides us with this inexhaustible supply of power to be content in all things, which empowers us to walk faithfully with Him. The more we know Him, the more we trust and love Him, and the more we trust and love Him, the more we find satisfaction in Him, and the more we find satisfaction in Him, the more ready and able we are to endure, persevere, and remain consistent and unwavering. That’s the secret of contentment AND faithfulness.
So, how do we ensure we remain faithful? How do we keep ourselves from wavering in our faithfulness to Christ and His work? Matthew 6:22 (NIV) says, “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light.” Did you know that a variety of studies in psychology have shown that intentionally looking at someone’s face and making eye contact increases feelings of love and affection for someone? It ignites and deepens relationships and feelings of gratitude and enjoyment.
So, if you want to remain faithful, keep your eyes on Jesus daily and He will become your treasure. When you behold Jesus consistently, like a spouse who has eyes for no one else, you will remain faithful!
Pause: How does self-controlled living make the teaching about God our Savior attractive?
Practice: In John 15:8 (NIV), Jesus says, “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” God ordained you to be an agent of transformation in our world, in our culture, in this present age. Not in isolation or seclusion away from the world, but in the places and spaces He has us. Not by fighting a war against culture, but by shining the light of Jesus into our culture! So, this season, be intentional in your workplace to let your good fruit fall onto your coworkers and your bosses. In your classrooms, let Holy Spirit fruit drop into the hands of classmates and teachers. In your homes, in your friend circles, in your gyms, on your teams, and at the restaurants and coffee shops you frequent, let your good fruit and your good works be on display.
Pray: Father, teach me and help me to be more like Your Son, to live an upright, self-controlled, and godly life so I may draw people to You and not away from You. Help me in step with the Spirit and to display all the fruit of the Spirit, the results of intimacy with You. Present me with opportunities to walk in the fruit of the Spirit and produce good fruit so others may come to truly understand who You are and how much You love them. Amen.
Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.