March 3, 2024 | Doug Sauder
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“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.”—Philippians 4:12 (NIV)
“You’re in such good shape.”
“You’ve been happily married for 50 years.”
“Tom Brady, you’ve been playing at a high level for 20 years.”
What’s your secret?
We ask these questions because staying in shape is hard, marriage is hard, and being at the top of our field for two decades is hard. We’re hoping there’s an easy solution, formula, or habit that will enable us to find the same level of success as those we believe have it all figured out.
In today’s passage, Paul actually tells us he’s indeed found such a secret: to live with contentment “in any and every situation.” He’s discovered how to be content at all times, whether full or hungry, healthy or sick, rich or poor, a free man or a prisoner chained to a Roman soldier. Isn’t that amazing?
What Paul is saying here seems downright impossible, doesn’t it? It’s an age-old struggle for mankind, one that goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden.
You see, Adam and Eve were told to stay away from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. God warned them if they ate of this tree, they would die. But the serpent tempted them, telling them if they ate from this tree, they’d be like God! The covetousness of man then took over, as they wanted something they believed they didn’t have. In this moment, their pride and selfishness led to discontentment with all the Lord had given them. In turn, they lost sight of the infinite number of fruit-filled trees because the one tree they were prohibited to eat from suddenly looked “good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom” (Genesis 3:6 NIV). They became discontent with the amazing and abundant blessings of God and decided to disobey Him. And for what? Because they believed by disobeying God and eating of this tree, they would become like God. Want to know the worst part? They already WERE like God. They were made in His image and likeness.
This is and has been a major struggle for humanity, but Paul learned to be content in the Lord and live with joy regardless of his circumstances. You see, when Paul struggled with a thorn in his flesh, he asked the Lord to remove it, but the Lord said no, saying, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” In response, Paul said, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9–10 NIV).
The lesson Paul conveys here is that whether we have nothing to our name or we have an embarrassment of riches, God’s grace alone is what satisfies and suffices. It should be more than enough for us to experience joy, peace, and contentment. Even if we have nothing, we have everything because His grace is sufficient!
Tomorrow we’ll go deeper into Paul’s secret.
Pause: What do you believe is the secret to contentment? What is God saying to you personally through this passage?
Practice: Spend time today reflecting on all you have in Christ and how you have seen His power and glory on display in your shortcomings and struggles.
Pray: Father, today I praise You in my weaknesses, for the insults, hardships, persecutions, and difficulties. I praise You in richness or poverty, in fullness or hunger, in abundance or scarcity for the power of Christ that is made perfect in these things, for how Your glory, power, and goodness are displayed and magnified in them. I thank You for Your grace that is sufficient. I thank You that even when I have nothing, I have everything because I have You and am found in You! Help me to never lose sight of this, dear Lord. 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.