By T.G. Blankenship at The Gethsemane Blog
Philippians 4:10-13 states, I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
It's pretty easy to understand the need to learn to be content when we are in need, poverty, or hardship. However, we don't think to be content when we have abundance, full bellies, and plenty. This is something we must learn.
Too often I've read this passage thinking I need to feel as good about my poverty as I do my wealthy. That is, when I have need and pain I should learn to feel as good as when I have joy and provision. This isn't right. We should be content, satisfied, in both!
We aren't always content in our abundance. In fact, in our culture it is very easy to be discontent in our abundance. We find ourselves harboring a sense of entitlement and greed. We say "What I have is good, but not good enough." or "I want more." Our lust for more is never ceasing if we lack contentment. We can literally gain the whole world and lose our soul. We can have everything we need and be convinced that what we want is now a need.
When we live this way we begin to steal. In our discontentment we say "I need more for me" and when we take more than we need and refuse to use our overflow for those who do not have all they need we essentially steal from them, refusing to give to others what they need and we do not.
We need to learn to be content, satisfied, pleased, in whatever abundance we've been given. We have to learn that this desire for more is a sickness. I have a friend who is young and has a really good job. She had recently been driving a nice and fairly new car. After having it for several years she is now selling it used for $17,000. Why? She told me it's because she has come to realize it's too much. "I just need to get from Point A to Point B and I don't need all this to do that." The heated seats, sweet surround sound, tinted windows, iPod attachments, GPS screen, etc. Are nice luxuries but they're just luxuries and if they complicate life then why not get rid of them? So she's selling her car and buying another for about $2,00 because that will get the job done. At the end of the day, she still owns a car which makes her rich on a global standard.
She's learning to be content in her abundance. She can have more, but she no longer wants it. She has had more, and realized it doesn't satisfy. Now, she is freed up to give more, and that giving is satisfying. Right after this lesson in Philippians Paul goes on to speak about giving. I am convinced this is not a coincidence.
Without contentment during abundance we'll not ask for daily bread but demand bread, butter, wine, meat, and everything we don't need and in so doing we shall put ourselves above God's throne as though he were our slave and not our gracious Father who gives to those who ask.