Phil 4:11-12 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
We are all in Christ’s “school”
And He is always educating us. Disciples are learners and all true Christians are disciples. We enter the lowest grade when we begin as Christians. We have everything to learn. Each new experience is a new lesson set for us by the great Teacher.
The business of noble Christian living is learning.
We know nothing when we begin. Learning is not confined to what we get from reading books. All of life is a school. Christ’s “books” are ever being put into our hands, and “lessons” are set for us continually.
Paul Learned Lessons
Paul tells us of one of the lessons he had learned in the “school of experience.”
Phil 4:11 … I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
We are glad to know that Paul had to learn to be contented. We are apt to think that such a man as he was, did not have to learn to live as we common people do and that he always knew, for instance, how to be contented. Here, however, we have the confession that he had to learn the lesson just as we do. He did not always know the secret of contentment.
Paul was well on in years when he said this. From this, we conclude that it took him a long time to learn the lesson and that it was not easy for him to do it.
Christ’s school is not easy.
Sorrow is a choice lesson in Christ’s school. Sorrow is not an accident breaking into our life, without meaning or purpose. God could prevent the coming of sorrow if He so desired. He has all power, and nothing can touch the lives of any of His children–unless He is willing. Since we know that God loves us and yet permits us to suffer–we may be quite sure that there is a blessing, something good, in whatever it is that brings us pain or sorrow.
Our response is not easy.
We shrink from pain. We run away from afflictions. And we refuse to accept sorrow. But there are things worth suffering for–things dearer than ease and pleasure. We learn lessons in pain, which repay a thousand times the cost of our tears!
The Bible tells us that God preserves the tears of His children, putting them in His tear-bottle. Tears are sacred to God, because of the blessings that come through them to His children. In Heaven, we will look back on our lives of pain and sorrow on the earth, and will find that our best lessons have come through our tears!
All the Christian graces have to be learned in Christ’s school.
There Paul had learned contentment. He never would have learned it, however, if he only had pleasures and ease all his life. Contentment comes from learning to do without things, which we once supposed to be essential to our comfort. Paul had learned contentment, through finding such fullness of blessing in Christ, that he did not need the secondary things anymore.
Perhaps we would succeed better in learning this same grace if we had fewer of life’s comforts — if sometimes we had the experience of need. The continuity of blessings that flow like a river into our lives gives us no opportunity to learn contentment.
When sufferings come into our life . . .
- disagreeable things, instead of pleasant things
- hunger and poverty, instead of plenty
- rough ways, instead of flower-strewn paths
. . . God is teaching us the lesson of contentment so that we can say at length, that we have learned the secret of being content!
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