I must admit, “contentment” is not an easy lesson to learn. It seems to take a lifetime of going through various situations that try us before we learn what Paul is talking about in Philippians 4:11.
“I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.” That word “content” (autarkēs) is made up of two words in Greek, “auto” and “self-rule.” This combined idea is part of Paul’s description of the fruit the Spirit produces in us; “self-control.” In other words, it is the Spirit’s work in us that helps us learn to be content
Paul continues his exhortation in Philippians 4 and adds, “In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need” (4:12). This is not natural to any of us, but is gain through the indwelling Spirit as we allow Him to teach us.
The instructions to Timothy were; “godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content” (1 Timothy 6:6–8). We do not gain unless we are content.
Perhaps the present trial is forcing us to learn this lesson in a new way. If we learn this, the Spirit will make it an “automatic” function of “self-rule” so that as circumstances change and our lives are required to adjust to new situations, we will be content with what the Lord gives us.
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