I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.
— Philippians 4:11
Contentment was a powerful word to the Greek-speaking people of Paul’s day. To be content literally means “to find everything you need within yourself.”
Many teachers in that day believed that contentment was the greatest virtue. But their version of contentment was based on self-accomplishment. To become content, they taught, a person had to be able to provide completely for himself or herself.
Paul knew that it was a myth to think that a human being can be completely self-sustaining. And yet here he looks within himself and finds that everything he needs is there within him. How did it get there? God put it there. God’s own Spirit had begun living inside of Paul.
This contentment provided by the Spirit of God gave Paul tremendous freedom. He goes on to say that sometimes his physical needs have been met, and sometimes they have not been met. But even when he has not had enough food, clothing, money, or other basic needs, he has still found that God’s peace and strength have been present within him.
Jesus, live in us. Fill us with your Spirit’s strength and peace, we pray, and help us to trust that you will provide whatever else we need for today. Amen.