With this illustration in mind, let us consider what the apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 4:11,12 - "Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content; I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need." Paul makes it clear that he isn't talking about his needs. Even if they hadn't sent things to Paul, he still would have been content. You see, Paul had learned what many Christians never do--how to be content. He could be content regardless of whatever condition he found himself in. If he was in poor physical circumstances he could live humbly; if he was in good physical circumstances he could live in prosperity.
Physical circumstances just did not matter to Paul! He could be content if he was hungry or full; he could be content if he was abounding or in need. This is a tough lesson to learn, but it is one that every Christian should work toward. It isn't natural for a person to be content when they are in need physically, but it is possible for a Christian! Many in the world, like Mr. Hearst, live in abundance, but they still lack true contentment. They always want more! This desire causes them to not appreciate what they already have. Paul said that he had learned to be content. But how? How can a person learn to be content? The next verse holds the answer.
Philippians 4:13 - "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Paul realized this truth and we too must realize it if we are ever going to have the contentment the Lord wants us to have. Paul knew who was in control--God! Jesus is the One who strengthens us and makes us capable of doing what we need to do as His servants. Paul knew that it was only in Christ that he could find abiding joy and true strength, and he knew that this joy and strength would raise him above the sufferings, struggles, and uncertainties of this physical life. Paul knew that it was only in Christ, in faithful dedication and devotion to God, that true contentment is found--such is never found in possessions.
I don't believe the Scriptures teach that God strengthens us directly in some miraculous way; rather, God strengthens us indirectly through His word! Consider Acts 20:32 - "So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified." Did you hear that? God's word is able to build us up; God's divine word makes us strong! This is how Christ strengthens us! And doesn't that make sense? Paul was able to be content in whatever physical circumstance he found himself in because he had learned from God that the physical things of life really don't matter in the big picture! It's all rubbish as he said back in Philippians 3:8. What really matters is faithful Christian living--standing fast in the Lord. That is what brings joy and contentment spiritually, which makes physical pleasure or pain a very insignificant issue. Realizing this makes being content in any circumstance attainable for a Christian.
Dear listeners, be honest with yourself: Are you content? If not, why not? God has the power to help you find genuine contentment. It all starts by living for Him and understanding the insignificance of physical things in the overall scheme of eternity.