Well, it’s here – the three verses in Philippians that I've been dreading. Dreading? Yes, you read this correctly. Since we began our study in the book of Philippians, I have been dreading the time when I would have to write on Philippians 4:10-12. I know; people are supposed to love every verse in the Bible because it’s God’s Holy Word, but God is still growing me into who I need to be, and these three verses touch on a subject that I’m not particularly fond of, and I imagine I’m not alone in this sentiment. So let’s all be brave and take an honest look at what God has to say about the subject of finances.
I imagine some of you just tensed up when you read the word “finances.” Unfortunately, chronic illnesses don’t just affect our bodies, minds, emotions, and spirits. At some point in most of our lives, our chronic illnesses will have a negative impact on our finances. Even if a person has insurance, medical bills have the tendency to accumulate. For me, this happened four years ago. When my body began to shut down from the lupus and Crohns, I had to quit my job, move in with my parents, and visit doctor after doctor in hopes of finding a resolution to my sickness. Tests were ran, procedures completed, and medicines given, but nothing helped. It didn’t take long for my savings account to run out, and I was left with a pile of medical debt. Sadly, the bill collectors didn’t have empathy for my situation. In their minds, if I was alive and able to talk on the telephone, then I must be well enough to work and give them their money.
I know from conversations with many of you that my story is similar to many of yours. For a long time, I really struggled with questions about God and His love for me since I was having to go through such a rough time financially. All of my life I had heard that God will provide for our every need, yet I had many needs that weren’t being met. So either people were wrong or God was mean and didn’t care about me and my problems. To be honest, I didn’t like either option for why I was in medical debt, yet I needed an answer as to why God wasn’t intervening. God helped me find the answer in Philippians 4:10-12.
Verse eleven is a popular verse that gets quoted often by Christians for many different situations, but nine times out of ten the verse is used out of context from what Paul meant when he penned the words, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.” Now don’t get me wrong, contentment is a wonderful quality we should all strive for, but this verse needs to be read with verses ten and twelve so that we fully understand what God is teaching. The entire three verses are this: “The Lord has filled me with joy because you again showed interest in me. You were interested before but did not have an opportunity to show it. I’m not saying this because I’m in any need. I’ve learned to be content in whatever situation I’m in. I know how to live in poverty or prosperity. No matter what the situation, I’ve learned the secret of how to live when I’m full or when I’m hungry, when I have too much or when I have too little.” (GW)
Ouch! I know; that’s not easy to read when you’re hoping your money problems will go away. “I know how to live in poverty.”….“I’ve learned the secret of how to live when I have too little.” How many of us can truly say these words? I have to admit, it’s taken me four years to start to understand what Paul refers to as “the secret of living,” and I still have to daily work on being grateful for the things I do have. We Americans are spoiled, even those of us who are “poor.” To the rest of the world, those of us who are considered to be poor here in the United States are viewed as being wealthy. We don’t have to beg for food and shelter. Money is given to those who are too sick to work. Thrift stores have nicer clothes than many around the world could ever hope to own. And yet, we want more.
The original word Paul uses for content is “autarkes,” and it means “satisfied.” When studied with the rest of the passage, it means “to be satisfied in God because He is more than enough.” In essence, when we gripe and complain because we don’t have as much money as we would like, we are saying that God doesn’t satisfy us – He’s not good enough.
Think about that for a minute. I don’t know about you, but that disturbs me. The God of the universe, who loves each of us so much that He sent His Son to die on a cross to save us from our sins, isn’t enough?? The God who comforts us when we’re in too much pain to sleep at night, the God who sends us wonderful surprises to brighten our day, the God who fills our hearts with joy and peace when life is hard, isn’t enough??? How sad! Yet despite everything, God continually loves us.
I pray each of you will be overwhelmed with the truth of how much God loves and cares for you. He hasn’t abandoned or forgotten you. He is head over heels in love with you. He is more than enough. The question is, “Are you satisfied?”
“Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.” ~ Hebrews 13:5
© January 17, 2013