Paul uses an interesting word in Philippians 4:12. The KJV translates it as “instructed.” The word means to be initiated into the mysteries, to be initiated into a secret previously veiled. But just what kind of mystery is Paul talking about? He’s not speaking of some sort of special knowledge, nor some progressive thinking, nor some special or elite doctrine, nor yet a spiritual secret of great magnitude; for all of those are purported and abound by the false teachers of today. No, but our beloved brother Paul was initiated into this: being content in every situation through the ability Christ imparts.
"Not that I speak in respect of poverty: for I have come to realize, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be satisfied. I have known both how to be humiliated/brought low, and I have known how to overflow: every where and in all things I have been initiated into the mystery to be glutted and to starve, both to overflow and to be lacking. In all things I have strength in the one filling me with strength/power/ability." [Phil 4:11-13]
Paul was initiated into being completely satisfied in every state. It didn’t matter if He was rich or poor, full or hungry: He was satisfied in Christ alone. This strength for this level of satisfaction comes directly from Jesus Christ. We can be utterly satisfied in every situation through the strength Jesus Christ imparts.
The grace of Jesus Christ is what enables us to be content. And we receive this grace in weakness, for Jesus’ “strength is made perfect in weakness.” Through our weakness we will be forced to find our joy in Christ, weakness and trial teaches us, initiates us into this. Each new trial is an opportunity to learn to be content, and the more Jesus imparts to us ability to be content, the more filled with joy we will be in trials and in blessings. Through this course in contentment, which only our Dear Lord Jesus can teach, we will hopefully be able to say with Paul, “I am exceeding joyful in all our tribulation.”
This is something we, like Paul, must learn. You cannot second-hand learn contentment. It is something Jesus Christ must slowly reveal to us through circumstances of life. We, following Paul’s example, must cling to Jesus Christ and look to Him for utter satisfaction. Don’t trust in circumstances; don’t be strong in circumstances. Trust in and “be strong in the grace which is in Christ Jesus.”
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