10 I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 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. 13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
Remember, Paul is writing as a Roman prisoner with no assurance of what the next day will bring; freedom, imprisonment, or even death. When he talks about the “concern” they had for him, he is referring to the financial support and material possessions they provided him. Evidently, they had tried to send things he needed on an earlier date, but had been unsuccessful. In spite of this, Paul reminded them he had learned to be content regardless of his circumstances (which included his imprisonment).
As verse 12 indicates, there is nothing wrong with being in need or having abundance. I think people in the church world sometimes have a tendency to believe that poverty is more spiritual than being wealthy. I’m not sure where that idea came from, but I don’t agree with it. I’ve known some very ungodly people who were poor, and some very godly people who were rich. I’ve also known some very poor people who were godly and some very rich people who were not. Godliness has nothing to do with possessions or the amount of money a person has.
Some of the most spiritually mature people I’ve known are extremely wealthy and use their wealth to further the Kingdom of God. If it weren’t for the fact that there are people in our church who have done well financially and are generous in giving to build God’s Kingdom – we wouldn’t have the wonderful facilities we enjoy. Every gift given is significant and we stress the importance of equal sacrifice not equal gifts. But without some big gifts, we’d not be able to accomplish what we’ve been able to do in building God’s Kingdom. A few years ago, I met one of the most successful business owners in America. This man was a multi-millionaire and he gave (get this) 90% of his income to his church and mission efforts around the world. Yet, he still made millions and said there is just no way to out-give God. Proverbs 11:25 says: “A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.”
Paul was thankful for the help of the Christ-followers from this church, and reminded them that he’d learned to be content regardless of his circumstances. One reason for his contentment came from the fact he knew he could do all things through Christ who gave him strength. No matter what he faced, Jesus Christ would give him the strength to face each day with joy. Paul’s joy wasn’t tied to his circumstances or his possessions; it was tied to his position in and relationship with Christ.
If you are a Christ-follower, you can learn to be content and have the attitude of joy that Paul exhibited. Paul, who also wrote Ephesians told the Believers at this church : “I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power 20 that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms “(Eph. 1:19-20). The Bible says the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is available to all true Christ-followers, and through the power and presence of Jesus Christ in your life you can face anything with contentment and/or joy!