“Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content” (Philippians 4:11)
No doubt we as humans, or mankind, often feel that there is something missing out of our lives. We feel this way because we have become so engulfed in the comfort provided to our flesh by the monetary, physical, worldly things of this life; things that can be seen with the natural eyes.
Yet the Bible says in Romans 1:20, “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.”
Knowing that everything that I need is in Christ Jesus, is the key to my being content. But since I can’t see Him now with my earthly natural eyes, I must see Him through these eyes and in what these eyes see.
If Paul was here in our day and had the privilege of being in a prison cell, I’m almost sure that he would still say that he was not in want of anything.
Want – lack; to feel the need of; dire need
I say this because Paul was familiar with “The Word of God,” not that he was so familiar with being in and out of jail. But while he was in jail, for the sake of preaching the Gospel, he would relate the things found inside that were provided, to the things Jesus proclaimed and what He proved Himself to be. And in seeing this, Paul could be content. Putting into practice Philippians 4:11 while being incarcerated, Paul was content.
Content – having desires limited to whatever one has; satisfied
Although Jesus was not there physically, as a cellmate, to provide these things Himself; Paul could see Jesus in these things he could physically see and use. Therefore, he was comforted, or content, with these things that supplied his needs while in prison. One example is the fountain or sink, with a mirror always placed directly above, if not connected or attached to it.
First, we look at the fountain or sink from which Paul could drink water.
(John 4:13-14) “Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: (14) But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.”
Secondly, Paul could use the fountain or sink for the purpose of washing his hands, his face, etc. Sanctification:
(John 17:17) “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.”
(Ephesians 5:26) “That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,”
Keep in mind that Paul understood the difference between Imputed Righteousness and Applied Righteousness. We know this to be true, because He tells us in 1 Corinthians 2:14, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
Third, Paul could use the cleansing available after he looked in the mirror. James 1:23 says, “For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:” And verse 24, “For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.”
Fourth, Paul would enjoy the light that is needed to see while inside a prison cell. (John 8:12) “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”
Fifth, even if not controlled by himself, Paul would be thankful for the door of his cell.
(John 10:7-9) “Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. (8) All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. (9) I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
Sixth, Paul would have the comfort of a bunk or rack or bed; used for rest and not torture. (Matthew 11:28) “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
Finally Paul, no doubt, had the desire to be free (free from physical bondage). But in realizing that he was suffering for Christ’s sake and for the sake of “the furtherance of the gospel” (Philippians 1:12); Paul could reflect on what Jesus said in John 8:32, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free,” and in John 8:36, “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”