Acknowledgment of the Philippians’ Gift
10 I rejoice in the Lord greatly that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned for me, but had no opportunity to show it. 11Not that I am referring to being in need; for I have learned to be content with whatever I have. 12I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. 13I can do all things through him who strengthens me. 14In any case, it was kind of you to share my distress.
The Philippians had sent help to Paul at the time when he most needed it – perhaps their help was brought by Epaphroditus, who stayed with Paul for a time, but then became gravely ill, as he had mentioned earlier in the letter. Paul rejoices that they have shown their concern for him – he believes they had always been concerned but had no way to show their concern; with this gift, whatever it was, they have shown their concern. In Paul’s time prisoners had to provide their own food and clothing – usually family or friends would stay near the prison and provide this support. If one had neither friends nor money to bribe guards then life could be hard indeed! But Paul is rejoicing, not at their gift as much as at their thought and care in sending it. We all have times when life is hard, and just a kind word from a friend is worth more than gold!
Paul says that he is not even referring to being in need – for he has learned to be content with whatever he has. He knows what it is to have little, and he knows what it is to have plenty – in all circumstances he has learned the secret of contentment. He can do all things through Christ who strengthens him!
It is such a trap to think that our contentment is dependent on our physical, external circumstances. Then we focus our energy and efforts on amending those circumstances. In truth, our contentment is dependent, as Paul points out, on the presence of Christ in our hearts. We live lives of gratitude as children of God, grateful for what we have. We depend on Christ for our strength. We can, indeed, do all things through him!