“…For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:11-13)
While many Christians are quite familiar with this verse above, we tend to separate the very last sentence from the rest of the context in which it is said. We simply say:
See, in the original context, Paul is talking about being content in every situation – whether in plenty or in want. He is not trying to tell us that we can do anything we like as long as we have enough faith. Usually we quote this scripture as a mantra for getting the things that we hope God will allow us to have. But, when Paul talks doing all thing through Christ he's speaking of trusting God so completely that his circumstances have no effect on him. His peace is not dependent upon his circumstance. His confidence in God is not changed by the environment he's in. He is fully resting on God and his joy is not influenced by what people say about him or how much money is in his pocket.
Now that is more like it. Paul wants us to understand that he’s discovered a real secret of the Kingdom of God. It’s how to endure suffering and to be filled with joy no matter what our circumstance might be.
“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” (1 Tim. 6:6-10)
Here, Paul flips things around to make a point about how our lack of contentment can rob us of our joy and plunge us into “ruin and destruction.” So, what should we do? We should strive to love God and to obey Him and to be content with all that He has already provided in His mercy.