But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. 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. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
History and Context:
The church in Phillipi was one of the first churches in Europe. This means these are some of the first believers in what we now know as the "Western World". Paul visited them around 49-50 AD and then at least two more times after that in 56 and 57 AD. One of the first Christians in Phillipi was the jailer who was assigned to guard Paul and Silas (and the other prisoners) when they were thrown in prison. God used an earthquake to set them free and to convince this jailer of His reality. (Acts 16:25-34) This letter was written in response to the church sending Epaphroditus to Paul to help him in his time of need.
Paul is thanking the church in Phillipi for helping him in his time of need. But he says that his excitement in their helping was not because he was in need but because of the character it showed them having. Here he states that he has learned to be in abundance and in need. The interesting thing is that the word here that is translated 'abased' and, in other translations, translated in need does not mean that he was short or in poverty, as many have taken it to mean. The Greek word here is tapeinousthai which means "to be humbled to a place of total dependence on God". What Paul is saying here is that he has learned to live where he is forced to be completely reliant on God and in situations where he has abundance. He then says that he has learned to be hungry and to suffer need, but he already has shown that the key attitude in those states is to be totally reliant on God. He then, a few verses later, writes the famous verse that "my God shall supply all your needs..."
Wherever you are learn to be content. If you are in a place of lack then be content to be completely reliant on God, if you are in a place of abundance, then be content and be generous towards those around you. And no matter where you are know that the end result is that God will always supply your needs as you follow Him. You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you! That means you can go through any situation and trial and you can come out the other side in the abundance that God wants to provide in your life!
Lord, I know that you are Lord over my life and over all my finances and possessions. Lead me in your way, help me to be totally reliant on you even in my times of abundance. Give me a generous heart so that I can be a blessing to those around me. In Jesus' name, Amen!