Not to the degree that Paul was, but I have been reduced to poverty, and enjoyed modest abundance (read Rough Road to Freedom). I have given up my home three times for the sake of ministry, and God has more than restored what I lost. I have been cursed and praised. I have enjoyed a public ministry, and I am finding peace in solitude as I sit silently with my dying wife. Paul had learned the secret of being content regardless of circumstances, implying that we can as well.
Being content in Phil. 4:11 literally means being self-sufficient, but Paul knew that we are not “adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:5,6). Paul wants us to know that nothing can separate us from the love of God (Rom. 8:39), and nobody can keep us from being the person God created us to be, which is God’s will for our lives. The materialist asks, What do I have to gain by that? You probably won’t gain what your flesh craves, but everything your soul desires like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
“But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money [not money itself] is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness” (1 Tim. 6:6-11).
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