“Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”
Paul said, “…for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” Let me ask you to replace the phrase, “in whatsoever state I am,” with your life situation. In other words, “I have learned in cancer to be content.” “I have learned to be content in health problems.” What is your “whatsoever state?” Is your “whatsoever state” raising your children all alone? Is it losing everything financially? Is it seeing your spouse leave you for another person? Is it losing a child to death? Is it losing a limb to diabetes? What is your “whatsoever state?” Whatever your “whatsoever state” may be, God makes it clear that you can be content in it. Paul shows how to be content in your “whatsoever state.”
First, you learn how to be content. Paul said, “I have learned…” This means that you have gone through tough times before. You learned in the past how to come to peace with your situation, and the situation you find yourself in right now is no different. Your past is what teaches you how to deal with your present. Dealing with your “whatsoever state” is a learning process, and you must not be impatient while going through your “whatsoever state.”
Second, you must learn how to do without to be content. Paul said in verse 12, “I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound…” Anybody can enjoy life while they are abounding, but you must learn how to be content while you are doing without. My friend, life will not always be abounding, but life will bring times of scarcity. You cannot let the times of life where you are without cause you to be discontent. Life will be lonely and miserable until you learn to be at peace with your situation in life.
Third, contentment is a choice. Paul said in verse 12, “I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound:” He continued by saying in verse 13, “I can do all things…” The “I can” in verse 13 is an attitude. You choose to say that you can be content with your situation. Nobody has made others content with their situation, but they had to choose to be content with it. Likewise, you must choose to be content with your situation. Nobody makes you discontented with your situation, but you choose to be discontented with it. Contentment is a choice you make to be at peace with whatever situation that life brings your way.
Fourth, contentment comes from Christ. Paul said in verse 13, “I can do all things through Christ…” In other words, your only need in your situation is Christ. Verse 19 confirms this when it says, “But my God shall supply all your need…” In other words, Christ can fill the lack in the area that your situation has taken from you. My friend, your only need in life is God. Contentment comes from choosing to make it through your situation in life by filling your need in life with God. You will never come to peace with your situation until you realize your only need is God.
Fifth, contentment comes from being at Christ’s side. Verse 13 says, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” This verse doesn’t say, “who strengtheneth me,” but it says, “which strengtheneth me.” This means, your strength to be content in your situation only comes by walking at Christ’s side. You will never find the strength to be content if you run from life’s problems, but you will only find the strength you need in Christ which comes from walking by His side.