Just Beyond Our Grasp

Philippians 4:11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.

Most people today think that contentment comes from what you have. If I just had more money, then I would be content. . . . If I were more intelligent. . . . If I were better looking. . . . If I were more successful. . . . If I got promoted. . . . The pursuit of contentment or happiness in this life is a never-ending endeavor. It always seems to be just beyond our grasp.

The apostle Paul said, “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content”

Paul was in prison when he wrote that. He didn’t receive this revelation in a classroom; it came from living out the ministry he was called to and walking with God in good times and bad. He had experienced pain and pleasure, health and sickness, weakness and strength, wealth and poverty. He was a hero to some and a villain to others. And he found complete contentment in it all.

It’s interesting that Paul used the word learned: “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.” In the original language the word he used was generally used to speak of a special attainment or of having grasped a hidden truth. Paul was saying, “Check this out! I’ve found a hidden truth. I have found the secret of contentment.”

The word translated content is important as well. It means self-sufficient. In the context of this epistle, it speaks of a sufficiency in Jesus Christ. Paul was saying, in effect, “It doesn’t matter where I am. I am content.” It was all about his relationship with God.

Our contentment does not come from what we have; it comes from a relationship with Jesus Christ.


David Ball