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. (Phil. 4:10-12, ESV)
Martyn Lloyd-Jones, in his exposition of this passage in his book of sermons entitled, The Life of Peace, explains Paul’s logic, as he sees it, for how Paul has learned contentment. It is supremely insightful and pastoral. I hope it will be an encouragement to you.
- Conditions are always changing, therefore I must obviously not be dependent upon conditions.
- What matters supremely and vitally is my soul and my relationship to God – this is the first thing.
- God is concerned about me as my Father, and nothing happens to me apart from God. Even the very hairs of my head are numbered. I must never forget that.
- God’s will and God’s ways are a great mystery, but I know that whatever he will or permits is, of necessity, for my good.
- Every situation in life is the unfolding of some manifestation of God’s love and goodness. Therefore my business is to look for each special manifestation of God’s goodness and kindness and to be prepared for surprises and blessings because, ‘Neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord’ (Isa. 55:8). What, for example, is the great lesson that Paul learned in the matter of the thorn in the flesh? It is that ‘When I am weak then I am strong.’ Through physical weakness Paul was taught this manifestation of God’s grace.
- Therefore I must not regard circumstances and conditions in and of themselves, but as a part of God’s dealings with me in the work of perfecting my soul and bringing me to final perfection.
- Whatever my conditions may be at this present moment they are only temporary, they are only passing, and they can never rob me of the joy and the glory that ultimately await me with Christ.