16 And this also is a severe evil— Just exactly as he came, so shall he go. And what profit has he who has labored for the wind? 17 All his days he also eats in darkness, and he has much sorrow and sickness and anger. (Ecclesiastes 5:16–17, NKJV)
Laboring for the wind. That is what Solomon said a person does who hoards wealth. He should know; he was extremely wealthy (Ecclesiastes 2:8). He observed that riches never satisfy the soul, yet they certainly increase problems (Ecclesiastes 5:10-12). Solomon observed how misfortune takes away the miser’s storehouse (5:13-14). Like Solomon, you will not take one bit of your earthly wealth with you when you die (5:15). Why then should you make the abundance of earthly riches your motive and aim in life? It is truly tragic to watch the money-driven person trying to catch the wind, deceived in the hope that by tearing down his barns and building bigger ones, his soul’s longing for contentment will be satisfied (Lk. 12:18-21). Genuine contentment comes from being “rich toward God,” regardless of the amount of money and things one possesses (Luke 12:21-23, 31; Hebrews 13:5). Be rich toward God. That perspective enables you to lay up treasure in heaven (Matthew. 6:19-21). “He who trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like foliage” (Proverbs 11:28).
11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 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. 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:11–13)
Contentment is a learned trait. Paul knew how to live in humble surroundings and how to live in prosperity. He had learned to be satisfied, whether he had a little or a lot. His faith trained him to learn what is truly valuable in life and what is only temporary. He knew life consists of much more than what we eat, drink and wear (Matt. 6:25). Everything circumstance of life presented Paul with an opportunity to rely on Christ and the strength of His might (Eph. 6:10). As we depend on the Lord by trusting and following His word, dissatisfaction gives way to faith’s contentment. Live for heaven each day, content to do “all things through Christ” and the strength that He supplies.
6 “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, 7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. (1 Peter 5:6–7, NKJV)
Peter has just taught that God favors the humble but resists the proud (1 Pet. 5:5). This becomes our incentive to be humble before God. We do so by casting our cares on Him, knowing He will bless us in His way and in His time. We may be tempted to become anxious and run ahead of God and His revealed will for our lives. We must be careful to follow His word, which is itself a mark of humility. Humility also implies contentment with God’s way. Jesus said, “he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Lk. 18:14). Let us be content to rely upon the Lord and not ourselves. He will never fail nor forsake those who are content in Him (Heb. 13:5). He cares for you.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)
This verse does not mean I can lift 1,000 pounds as long as Christ is my strength (and if not, then that must be proof I am not relying on Christ to strengthen me!) Clearly, there is a context to Paul’s confidence, and his context must be honored when we appeal to this verse for solace. Paul was discussing contentment in the midst of joyful thanksgiving that the Philippian church had sent him some much needed material support (vss. 10, 14). Paul noted: “I have learned, in whatever state I am, to be content” (Phil. 4:11). He had learned to be content living on meager means as well as having abundance. He was content whether he was hungry or full, and whether he had plenty or was in need (Phil. 4:12). It is this setting in which he knows he “can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. Like Paul, we can endure whatever obstacle life sets before us when we learn to be content and rely on the strength of our Savior.