The Context of Contentment

Well known Christian counselor, Dr. Jay Adams, has lamented the proliferation of wall plaques that quote selected Bible verses. I’ve heard him suggest beginning a contextual wallpaper company. One of the texts frequently taken out of context is Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Him [Christ] who strengthens me.”

On the basis of this text, we should not expect miraculous infusions of strength of Superman proportions. We will never be able to leap tall buildings with a single bound nor be as fast as a speeding bullet. So, to what do the “all things” in Philippians 4:13 refer. Look at the context.

Verses 11-12 are revealing. “Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.” Yes, Paul is speaking about contentment. By the grace of God in Christ, he is able to be content “in any and every circumstance” of life. In “all things” regarding the circumstances of his life, whether freely preaching Christ or in prison because of his preaching, whether shipwrecked on a Mediterranean island or spending time mentoring Timothy or Titus, Paul is content in heart and soul.

No matter the circumstance, Paul knows that Jesus Christ rules over heaven and earth. Paul know that God in heaven carefully guiding “all things” in the circumstances of his life for his good. Paul confesses this truth in Romans 8:28. “We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (emphasis added). No matter the circumstance in your life or mine, this truth applies. Contentment in “all things” is not elusive.

Denny Prutow

2018-10-24T13:06:46+00:00 October 29th, 2018|