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In Whatsoever State I Am

In Whatsoever State I Am

       You may recognize the title of the article as a phrase from Philippians 4:11, in which the Spirit had the apostle Paul write to the brethren in Philippi.   Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.  Continuing to read, we see the inspired explanation of what “state” means here.  Then in verse 13 we also read of the source of our contentment.   I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where 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.(Philippians 4:12-13)

      The key to our contentment is what it is which “makes us happy”, and that is something over which we have full control.     In Hebrews 13:5 the Christians of Jewish nationality were warned against being covetous.   This was to be the manner of their lives, and it should also be the manner of all Christians. Let your conversation (manner of life) be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.   What could make a person more happy or contented?  

       Now, as we examine these passages, can we not see that as long as we are in a proper relationship with God, we have every reason to be content?   To be in a proper association with God certainly could not cause us discontentment. Hebrews 13:6 tells us we are to have no fear of man, if we are indeed the faithful children of God.    So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.

       If we look into the life of the apostle Paul following his conversion, we see that he, of all people, had reason to be upset, downtrodden, or unhappy, from a physical standpoint.    We are extremely fortunate that we don’t live in the time of, or presently live in a nation in which we, like Paul, are subject to the same persecutions or the amount of suffering Paul endured for the cause of Christ. 

       In 2Corinthians 11:23-27 we get a glimpse of the turmoil in the life of Paul as he served God.   The Spirit had Paul write to the Corinthians to show the type of suffering one could face, yet still be happy in Christ.   Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. 24 Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep26 In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness If Paul could be in these “states” or face all these things and still be content, why can’t we remain happy?  

     The Spirit had the apostle Peter write to the brethren “scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,” to tell them the reasons that they should be happy and content as well as what to do in that happiness.  We find this in 1Peter 3:12-15.  For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. 13 And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? 14 But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; 15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:  

       Of course, if our present “state” is brought upon ourselves because of our sins, we won’t be content or happy.   But, if and when we suffer for the cause of Christ, we should remain content.   This too, is stated in God’s Holy Word.   In 1Peter 2:20 the Holy Spirit had Peter write:  For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.   Then, the Spirit, through Peter’s pen, in 1Peter 4:15-16 tells us that there can definitely be a difference in the source of our suffering.  But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters. 16 Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.

     It is a certainty that the faithful followers of Christ are going to be persecuted for living a godly life.  We are told this in 2Timothy 3:12.   Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.   Again, if the persecution we suffer is “self-inflicted, or is for a cause less worthy of the cross, the end result will not be eternal happiness or contentment at the present.   The apostle Paul was directed to write in 1Corinthians 4:11-12 that persecution comes in various forms, yet he remained content.  Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwelling-place; 12 And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it:   And in 2Corinthians 4:9,  Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;  

     We have so much more than this.   Why are we so unhappy and discontent?  If one is “in Christ”, in whatever state they find themselves, they’re content.  

                                                      Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

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