Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.
—Philippians 4:11 (NLT)
If you really look at this verse, you will see that contentment and need do not necessarily go hand-in-hand. You don’t require a need to be fulfilled to know contentment. Contentment and peace do go hand-in-hand. When you are contented, no matter if you have a need or not, you have peace.
Paul declares that He has learned to be content with whatever He has. This means he is at peace with what he has or doesn’t have. He knows peace wherever he is, and a lot of the time that was in prison. Circumstances in life are never perfect and often your plans don’t work out the way you envision. Getting upset doesn’t do any good. It only destroys your peace. Trying to force something to happen, just frustrates you more. And what you may consider your need is not really what God knows to be your need.
Paul's contentment came from knowing His worth in Jesus Christ. He knew where he stood in his relationship with Jesus. There was nothing to prove or show. He also trusted God in whatever circumstance he found himself. No matter what he faced, he was content. His eyes were not on what He was around him but upon His Savior. Times of incarceration could not stop him from trusting God to meet all his needs. Chains could not keep him from writing of the grace of God. He knew contentment because He believed that he had been made righteous by the grace of Jesus. The man who had tortured and killed was no more. Paul was free, and that freedom gave Him peace and contentment in any circumstance of life.
When you know your identity—your worth in Jesus—you, like Paul, have a deep abiding trust in God. When your circumstances are good, you might “feel” everything is fine. Then life throws a wrench in your plans, and you have no contentment or peace. Do you look at your circumstance instead of trusting in God? Struggling against that circumstance doesn't help. Being angry at God doesn't help either. In fact, this makes your discontent and unrest worse. But there is His peace that passes your human understanding. When you give God all your disappointments and allow Him to have control, He lifts you from a place of self-centered fear to His place of peace. You know peace and contentment when you trust God. And you trust God when you know you have right-standing in your relationship with Him.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you,” Jesus said. “I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27, NIV). “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33, NIV).
The peace of God is not dependent upon what the world offers or upon your circumstances. You may have trouble, but you do not need to fear. Jesus has overcome it. When you realize this truth, you discover His peace in all situations. You boldly face life believing He makes all things new. You have His strength and His peace. Your new identity—knowing who you are in Jesus—is the greatest contentment and peace you will ever know.
© 2020 Lynn Lacher