Philippians 4:11-13 KJV: Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. (12) I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. (13) I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me.
Here, Paul, by the Holy Spirit tells us that he learned contentment: how to be content both in times of lack and abundance; and times when hungry and when full.
What then is contentment?
Contentment is an inner satisfaction in our souls: will, mind and emotions that comes from the power of the fruit of the Spirit: peace, joy, longsuffering and patience (Gal. 5:22) irrespective of our present physical or material circumstances.
It is critical NOW to learn contentment: because a lack of contentment will lead to covetousness, which is New Testament idolatry that will cause us to lose our inheritance.
Hebrews 13:5 KJV: Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
Ephesians 5:5 KJV: For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
Furthermore, this covetous idolatry will invite demonic empowerment to get wealth that will lead to great deception and destruction.
Psalms 73:3 KJV: For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
Psalms 73:12 KJV: Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches.
Matthew 4:8-9 AMP: Again, the devil took Him up on a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory (the splendor, magnificence, preeminence, and excellence) of them. (9) And he said to Him, These things, all taken together, I will give You, if You will prostrate Yourself before me and do homage and worship me.
Psalms 73:17-19 KJV: Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end. (18) Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction. (19) How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! they are utterly consumed with terrors.
It is instructive here to note that it was covetousness: desire for material and financial resources outside the will of God so as to try to be independent of God (you can never be independent of God because all created beings will intrinsically be ALWAYS dependent on the Creator: God), that caused Satan to rebel against God:
Ezekiel 28:12-19 NIV: “Son of man, take up a lament concerning the king of Tyre and say to him: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: “‘You were the model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. (13) You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you: ruby, topaz and emerald, chrysolite, onyx and jasper, sapphire, turquoise and beryl. Your settings and mountings were made of gold; on the day you were created they were prepared. (14) You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones. (15) You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you. (16) Through your widespread trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned. So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God, and I expelled you, O guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones. (17) Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor. So I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings. (18) By your many sins and dishonest trade you have desecrated your sanctuaries. So I made a fire come out from you, and it consumed you, and I reduced you to ashes on the ground in the sight of all who were watching. (19) All the nations who knew you are appalled at you; you have come to a horrible end and will be no more.'”
How then do we learn contentment?
The same way you learn anything: by study and practice.
So, we study what the Word has to say about contentment: which is what you are doing NOW as you are reading and studying this teaching.
Then we practice self-denial and delayed gratification by the power of the fruit of the Spirit.
In other words, we exercise long-suffering and self-control when we have to wait for some physical or material need or desire.
We speak, think and act on the Word (Dt. 30:11-14) and pray in the Spirit (Eph. 6:18) as a daily (Lk. 9:23, Heb.5:7) habit to release the power of the fruit of the Spirit in sufficient measure into our souls: wills, minds, emotions; physical bodies and circumstances to enable us to have inner contentment all the time and especially when we have to wait for some physical or material need or desire to be met.
1 Timothy 6:5-11 KJV: Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. (6) But godliness with contentment is great gain. (7) For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. (8) And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. (9) But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. (10) For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (11) But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.
Here Paul tells us that godliness (Godlikeness) with contentment (1 Tim. 4.8) is profitable and will ultimately bring great gain: a 100 fold in this lifetime (Mk.10.29-30). Furthermore God will always see to it that we have food and raiment: essentials for our physical survival; however desires and luxuries will come with time as we develop God’s character and learn contentment. So great gain will ONLY come (from God; any other great gain will be from Satan (Mt. 4.8-9)) by great spiritual growth (3 Jn.2)!
Now, we MUST not be in a hurry to be rich, though it is certain that we will ultimately become rich (2 Cor. 8:9, 1 Tim. 6:17, Dt. 15:4) AS WE GROW spiritually (Eph. 4:15) into the perfection and fulness of Christ.
Proverbs 28:20 KJV: A faithful man shall abound with blessings: but he that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent.
Rather, we should follow after right-doing by right-standing and develop the fruit of the Spirit: especially joy, peace, longsuffering and patience and so learn contentment to get the great gain that comes by godliness with contentment!