Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: Philippians 4:11 NKJV
There has been a commercial playing on the television recently that I would rank as one of the funniest I have ever seen. You may have seen it as well, but if not I will do my best to explain it although it is hilarious to watch. A man is apparently cleaning his garage and discovers an old lamp of the type a genie would live in. He smiles and rubs it and amazingly a genie appears and asks him what his wish is. Laughingly the man says “a million bucks”. The genie waves his hands and immediately, outside of the garage there suddenly appears one million deer complete with antlers.
How many of us could truly say that in the same circumstances, we would smile and say there was nothing we truly wanted? It seems there is always a desire in our hearts to have something we do not have, and to pursue it until we get it. The dictionary defines contentment as a state of satisfaction, literally wanting nothing. In this verse from Philippians, Paul tells us that even though in prison and chained to a guard, he is content. The word content used here is the Greek word “autarkēs” which translated means “possessing enough to need no aid or support”. Just what did Paul possess in prison that allowed him to say he needed nothing?
Have you ever experienced anger, or frustration, or impatience with God when you want something and never get it? Have you ever really considered the possibility that there is a reason the all knowing God of the universe told you “no”? Unfortunately, the normal response by most people who ask but don’t receive is to simply pursue obtaining whatever it is they want, and ignoring the possibility that God already decided it is not something they need.
Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. 1Timothy 6:6-10
I believe something all parents have in common is the experience of teaching their children the meaning of the word “no”. Truthfully, I have yet to hear anyone tell me their child just smiled and said “no problem” when told they could not do something or have something they wanted. Although most come to the understanding and acceptance of the situation, the desire never really seems to go away. I can recall being asked for the same thing over and over again until like most parents, I eventually gave in and said yes. Unfortunately, even as adults, it appears many do the same thing with God.
But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus. Galatians 1:15-17 NKJV
Another point we often miss, which should also be apparent to us is the fact that God has His own timetable and provides for those who follow Him according to His own omniscient timing. The possibility always exists that what we want is the same that God wants, however we as humans always want it now while an all-knowing God understands that there is a proper time to receive everything. Paul references this in the passage from Galatians where he uses the phrase, “when it pleased God “. Something I enjoyed doing as a parent was to surprise my daughters with something they wanted after making them wait for a time, usually because they believed I had forgotten all about it. Seeing their surprise and their gratitude made giving enjoyable to me.
And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 NKJV
Many look at this verse from Philippians and understand it to mean God can give us anything because of the abundance of His riches. That is, of course, a true statement concerning Gods’ ability to give to His children, yet I would like to suggest something else. Paul also says that God will supply “by Christ Jesus.” As I thought about that, I couldn’t help but wonder if Paul was also suggesting that by receiving the gift of eternal life through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross for our sins, we have already received all that we need?
If you think about it that way, remembering the passage from Timothy makes it clear that we will take nothing from this world with us to Heaven, it would appear that in truth the gift of eternal life has given us all that we truly need. If you are reading this today and have never made the decision to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, I urge you to do it right now. Simply admit to God that you need His forgiveness because you are a sinner, be willing to turn away from your sins, believe that Jesus died on the cross for your sins, and invite Him to come in and control your life through the Holy Spirit. You can do that by praying a simple prayer like this;
Jesus I know I am a sinner in need of salvation. I believe you sent your Son Jesus to die on the cross for my sin, and I ask you now to forgive me of my sins. I want to receive your gift of salvation so please come into my heart and help me to live and follow you as my Lord and Savior. In Jesus' name, Amen.