Thy Will Alone

“Then [Jesus] said to them, ‘My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch.’ He went a little farther, and fell on the ground, and prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him. And He said, ‘Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.’” Mark 14:34-36 (NKJV)


Christian contentment in the face of tragedy and disaster is a spiritual matter. It is also a matter of the heart. Because contentment calls us to submit to God’s sovereignty, it is also a matter of the will. We choose to submit to whatever God has for our lives even though it may be unpleasant or painful. The night before Jesus went to the cross, He understood the torture and suffering He would endure because it was the Father’s will that His Son should give His life to atone for the sins of the whole world. (I John 2:2; 4:10) In spite of the unimaginable horror that would cause the Father to look away from His Son, Jesus loved us enough to submit to the Father’s will.

“Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: ” Galatians 1:3-4 (KJV)


Thy Will Alone

by Lottie Blackwood *

Thy will alone, dear Lord,

Is all I care to do

In all I act, or speak, or think,

While I remain below.

I care not what I do,

I care not where I go,

If thou wilt gently lead me, Lord,

Down thro’ this vale of woe.

I’m not afraid to trust,

I see thy smiling face;

Thou hast drawn apart the veil for me,

Within the holiest place.

Then help me trust thee, Lord,

To all thy will I bow;

A humble suppliant at the throne,

Thou dost receive me now.


* Lottie Blackwood – We know nothing about her except that she wrote hymns in the late 19th century. Internet searches turned up a few hymns, but nothing about her. Some of her hymns appear to have been republished with slightly different titles. “Jesus Saves Even Me” (sheet music, 1885); “Thy Will Alone Dear Lord” (hymnal, 1887); “Thy Precious Will be Done” (hymnal, 1888); “Thy Will Alone” (hymnal, 1900).


More to Learn About Contentment

“Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” 1 Corinthians 10:11-12 (NKJV)

“Christian contentment is that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious, frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God’s wise and fatherly disposal in every condition.” Jeremiah Burroughs


We’ve looked at a number of things in Burrough’s definition of Christian contentment that might make us feel well-prepared in the subject. To summarize: Christian contentment is a heart matter; it is a quieting of the heart; it is a spiritual matter; it is graciously and freely submitting to God’s plan for us; there is a certain pleasure in seeing God at work in our life through trials; everything that happens is due to God’s wise sovereignty; every circumstance, no matter how difficult or how long it persists, is in God’s control.

We will look at I Corinthians 10 quoted in part above in a later lesson, but note that the lesson of verses 11-12 is that our experiences in life, like the Israelites wandering in the desert, can leave us with misconceptions about who God is and why God puts trials in our path. The more God showed His grace and care in their desert wanderings, the more the Israelites complained and grew bitter against Him. If you’ve been a believer for any length of time, you’ve had many opportunities to face difficulties. Some of us have not handled them well and others have come through with flying colors—thanks to God and His grace.

My point is that sometimes we can think that we can deal with problems that come our way in our own strength. We pray, read our Bibles, worship, fellowship, serve, love our families, and work hard. Things will happen along the way and we feel confident that we can deal with them! “…let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.”

We have a way yet to go in our study of Christian contentment. We live in a sin-cursed earth surrounded by sinners like us! The next lessons are mini-insights from Jeremiah Burroughs on “The Mystery of Contentment.” You might be surprised that a believer in the middle of the most horrible crisis of their life can still be spiritually content. How can that possibly be? That is the mystery!


I Surrender All

“Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:8-11 (NKJV)

If there is one verse that holds the secret to Christian contentment, it is Romans 12:1. Surrendering of our lives to God each day sets the stage for a daily walk in the Spirit. The principles of surrender are explained in Chapter 6 of Romans: in the new birth, received from God as a free gift by faith in Jesus Christ, we became identified with Christ for all eternity. When He died, we died with Him. When He rose from the dead, we rose with Him. Now, we walk in newness of life where, again by faith, sin holds no power over us and we can live moment by moment in pure fellowship with our Savior. Sin breaks that moment fellowship, but never the bond of eternal life. Confession of our sin (I John 1:9) instantly returns us to fellowship and a walk of joy and contentment. Romans 6 and Romans 12:1-2 together form the foundation upon which a believer can build a life of spiritual contentment. The words of the hymn “I Surrender All” and the inspiration for it from the writer’s life are reminders of our need to submit every moment to whatever circumstances our loving, gracious God sends our way.


I Surrender All

by Judson W. Van De Venter *

All to Jesus I surrender,

All to Him I freely give;

I will ever love and trust Him,

In His presence daily live.


I surrender all, I surrender all;

All to Thee, my blessed Savior,

I surrender all.

All to Jesus I surrender,

Make me, Savior, wholly Thine;

Let me feel Thy Holy Spirit,

Truly know that Thou art mine. [Refrain]

All to Jesus I surrender,

Lord, I give myself to Thee;

Fill me with Thy love and power,

Let Thy blessing fall on me. [Refrain]


* Judson W. Van De Venter (1855-1939) was born on a farm in Michigan. Following graduation from Hillsdale College, he became an art teacher and supervisor of art in the public schools of Sharon, Pennsylvania. He was, in addition, an accomplished musician, singer, and composer. He was also an active in his church’s evangelistic meetings. Recognizing his talent for the ministry, friends urged him to give up teaching and become an evangelist. Van De Venter wavered for five years between becoming a recognized artist or devoting himself to ministry. Finally, he surrendered his life to the Lord and full-time ministry, and wrote the text of this hymn. Following his decision to surrender his life to the Lord, Van De Venter traveled throughout the United States, England, and Scotland, doing evangelistic work. Toward the end of his life, Van De Venter moved to Florida, and was professor of hymnology at the Florida Bible Institute for four years in the 1920s. Van De Venter published more than 60 hymns in his lifetime, but “I Surrender All” is his most famous.


Submission to God is Contentment

“For thus says the High and Lofty One

Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:

“I dwell in the high and holy place,

With him who has a contrite and humble spirit,

To revive the spirit of the humble,

And to revive the heart of the contrite ones.”

Isaiah 57:15

“Christian contentment is that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious, frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God’s wise and fatherly disposal in every condition.” Jeremiah Burroughs

Burrough’s definition of Christian contentment ends with the thought that the believer’s spiritual attitude must be in submission to God’s sovereign will in all circumstances. When things go well we say “Praise the Lord!”. We (rightly) thank Him for recovery from an operation or illness, provision of a raise at our job, good grades at school, or the gracious settlement of a family argument. “This is God’s will,” we reason, because things have gone well. How about when the news from the doctor is not so good, we lose our job, our grades take a nosedive, or there is constant stress in our family? We ask, “Can this be God’s will?”

Burroughs has four practical insights to help us apply what he means when he says thatChristian contentment, “…freely submits to and delights in God’s wise and fatherly disposal in every condition.”

Christian contentment means…free submission to God’s work in our lives – Submission to God in our circumstances must be give freely, willingly. Burroughs tells us in his unique style: “This freedom is in opposition to mere stupidity.” He explains that, “many are contented…who have a dead paralysis about them. But a yielded heart has sense enough and yet is contented, and therefore free.” Those who are not content to let God perform his perfect work (Deuteronomy 32:4) believe that they know better than God! Remember that you are  not above God—He is above you! “Keep under the authority and sovereignty of God; the power that God has over you! To keep under, that is to submit. The soul can submit to God at the time when it can send itself under the power and sovereignty and dominion that God has over it.” Doing this freely is the difficult part…


Christian contentment means…delight in what God does – “I am well pleased in what God does, in so far as I can see God in it, though I may be sensible of the affliction, and may desire that God in His due time would remove it…Yet I am well pleased in so far as God’s hand is in it…that I see that there is good in it. I find that there is honey in the rock… and the hand of God is good.” “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.” (Psalm 119:71)

Christian contentment means…God’s work is wise and fatherly – God has a good outcome in mind for our afflictions and troubles as He works in us to shape us into the men, women, children He wants. Joseph could say, even after so many difficult experiences in his life, “…you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” (Genesis 50:20) Likewise, God works today to work all things together for god in our lives. (Romans 8:28-30)

Christian contentment means…submission and delight in all that God does – It is difficult to remember these lessons on contentment during times of adversity. Burroughs notes that all trials are different and affect individuals differently:

(a) The kind of trouble impacts people differently: one person faces a deadly disease and another is in a crumbling marriage and another is in financial hardship; God can use any means to conform us to the image of His Son;

(b) The time and continuance of a hardship will be different for each believer: some trials can be seen approaching to give time for preparation while others strike without warning and when we are least prepared; some last but for an hour or a day and others last a lifetime;

(c) The circumstances of our suffering can make submission to God’s sovereignty easier or harder. Sometimes the circumstances surrounding a burden are harder to bear than the burden itself. All of this is still part of God’s plan;

(d) The variety of trials can compound our misery. Bearing one thorn in the flesh is difficult enough and yet bearing two or three or more in succession can be crushing. Job experienced more different calamities in one day than anyone else would face in a lifetime. (Job 1:13-19) Yet, “In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.” (1:22)


Next time: Do we understand spiritual contentment? Not yet…

Peace, Peace! Wonderful Peace!

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” Romans 5:1-2

Peace, especially peace with God, is a mark of spiritual contentment. This hymn epitomizes the peace of God that passes all understanding and penetrates deep into our spirit to govern all that we do.


Wonderful Peace

by Warren Donald Cornell *

Far away in the depths of my spirit tonight

Rolls a melody sweeter than psalm;

In celestial-like strains it unceasingly falls

O’er my soul like an infinite calm.


Peace, peace! wonderful peace!

Coming down from the Father above,

Sweep over my spirit forever, I pray,

In fathomless billows of love.

What a treasure I have in this wonderful peace

Buried deep in the heart of my soul,

So secure that no power can mine it away

While the years of eternity roll. [Refrain]

I am resting tonight in this wonderful peace,

Resting sweetly in Jesus’ control,

For I’m kept from all danger by night and by day,

And His glory is flooding my soul. [Refrain]

And me thinks when I rise to that city of peace

Where the Author of peace I shall see,

That one strain of the song which the ransomed will sing

In that heavenly kingdom shall be: [Refrain]

Ah! soul, are you here without comfort and rest,

Marching down the rough pathway of time?

Make Jesus your friend ere the shadows grow dark

O accept this sweet peace so sublime! [Refrain]


* Warren Donald Cornell (1858-1936) was born in Whiteford, Michigan, where he trained as a school teacher and began teaching in Dallas Public Schools at age 19. Licensed by the Southern Methodists, he was appointed to preach in Denton and Gainesville, Texas. He married in 1880 and had five sons. In 1881 he removed to the Oshkosh, Wisconsin, area and spent most of his career preaching at various pastorates and in Berlin, Wisconsin. He was an eloquent preacher, poet, and evangelist. In 1894 he became minister of the People’s Christian Assn., in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin and pastored an independent church there. In 1905, he left the ministry and entered real estate. He took an interest in political and social issues, and became a touring lecturer for anti-socialist causes. By 1925 he and his family had moved to New York state, where he died in 1936.

Next – Submission to God is contentment

Contentment is a Matter of the Spirit

“For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” Romans 8:5-8

“Christian contentment is that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious, frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God’s wise and fatherly disposal in every condition.” Jeremiah Burroughs

The term “frame of spirit” may sound unusual to us, especially in Burrough’s 17th century English. We would recognize the term used in the King James Version of the Bible when it speaks of the frame of the human physical body: “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth.” (Psalm 103:13-15 KJV)

The Apostle Paul reminds us that our bodies are a physical “framework” (a holy temple) which houses the believer’s inner spirit and the Holy Spirit as long as the mortal body is alive. (I Corinthians 3:16-17; 6:19) I believe that Burroughs refers to the former in his definition. I hasten to point out that the believer’s inner spirit and the Holy Spirit are intimately bound and sealed together for eternity. (Ephesians 1:13-14, 4:30; II Corinthians 1:22)

Burroughs gives us three helpful thoughts on contentment as a spiritual matter:

Spiritual contentment, “…is soul-business.” Not only is our contentment a matter of the heart, it is also a matter of the spirit or soul. (I suspect he uses little distinction between soul and spirit as his way of making these lessons more practical than theological.) Contentment is much more than a matter of the heart. It addresses deeper, eternal issues related to our spirit which has been regenerated by God’s power. Because our inner spirit is now capable of being in tune with the Holy Spirit, we can pursue spiritual contentment as we live and walk in the spirit. We walk in a heavenly, spiritual realm where everything has spiritual implications and ramifications.

“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit Who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” (I Corinthians 2:12-13 NKJV)

Spiritual contentment “…spreads itself though the whole soul.” This begs the question of whether part of me can be content and another part discontent. An example is someone who reasons that because he has enough money, he should be content. He might convince himself that this is the case even though it is faulty reasoning. When that same person faces a trouble or calamity he is discontent. This is because he lacked contentment in his spirit or soul. He can reason all he wants that he should be content, yet if contentment does not saturate his entire soul, he will come up short. Burroughs suggests that a spiritually content believer will say, “This is the hand of God and is suitable for my condition or is what is best for me. Although I do not see the reason for it, I am satisfied with it.’ Spiritual contentment will imbue every part of a believer’s life—spirit and soul.

“The frame of the spirit shows the habitual character of contentment.” Spiritual contentment is not something that shows itself from time to time when we are feeling in a good mood. Burroughs makes this very clear: “A Christian who, in the constant tenor and temper of his heart, can carry himself quietly with constancy has learned this lesson of contentment. Otherwise, his Christianity is worth nothing, [emphasis added] for no one, however furious in his discontent, will not be quiet when he is in a good mood.” We will have more to say about this in a future lesson.



Like A River Glorious

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 (NKJV)

We saw the last time that Christian Contentment isdefined as, “…that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious, frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God’s wise and fatherly disposal in every condition.” As a matter of the heart, inner contentment is synonymous with inner peace with God. This hymn likens this peace to a slowly flowing river that is wide and vast as it moves along its path. May our lives be defined by peace and contentment as we wind along our journey in life.


Like A River Glorious

by Frances Ridley Havergal

Like a river glorious is God’s perfect peace,

over all victorious in its bright increase:

perfect, yet still flowing fuller every day;

perfect, yet still growing deeper all the way.


Trusting in the Father, hearts are fully blest,

finding, as he promised, perfect peace and rest.

Hidden in the hollow of his mighty hand,

where no harm can follow, in his strength we stand.

We may trust him fully all for us to do;

those who trust him wholly find him wholly true.



* Frances Ridley Havergal (1836-1879) was born in Astley, Worcestershire, Britain. Her father was the Rector of St. Nicholas Cathedral, Worcester. In August, 1850, she entered Mrs. Teed’s School, whose influence over her was most beneficial. In the following year she says, “I committed my soul to the Saviour, and earth and heaven seemed brighter from that moment.” In 1860 she left Worcester on her father resigning the Rectory of St. Nicholas, and resided at different periods in Britain, broken by visits to Switzerland, Scotland, and North Wales.

Simply and sweetly she sang the love of God, and His way of salvation. To this end, and for this object, her whole life and all her powers were consecrated. She lives and speaks in every line of her poetry. Her poems are permeated with the fragrance of her passionate love of Jesus. Her religious views and theological bias are distinctly set forth in her poems, and may be described as mildly Calvinistic, without the severe dogmatic tenet of reprobation. The burden of her writings is a free and full salvation, through the Redeemer’s merits, for every sinner who will receive it, and her life was devoted to the proclamation of this truth by personal labors, literary efforts, and earnest interest in Foreign Missions. She died in 1879 at the age of 43.


Contentment is a Matter of the Heart

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23

“Christian contentment is that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious, frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God’s wise and fatherly disposal in every condition.” Jeremiah Burroughs

Contentment is first a matter of the heart. Our definition of spiritual contentment begins with this comment by Burroughs: “Contentment is a sweet, inward heart-thing. Contentment is the quiet of the heart.” I suspect that many people think of contentment as a reaction to favorable or pleasant circumstances. ‘I am content when I’m eating my favorite ice cream.’ Someone else may say, ‘I am content when all my bills are paid.’ As we saw in Philippians 4:11, true contentment is independent of circumstances. We can be content in difficult or even horrible situations if we allow the Holy Spirit to control our attitude. (Ephesians 5:18-20; Colossians 3:1-4, 15-17)

The first attributes of contentment in our definition are embraced in the fruit of the Holy Spirit: “…love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23a NKJV) To use Burrough’s words, contentment is, “a work of the Spirit indoors.”

A sweet, inward, and quiet attitude exists in a heart that is at peace with God.  “Truly my soul silently waits for God; From Him comes my salvation. My soul, wait silently for God alone, For my expectation is from Him.” (Psalm 62:1, 5 NKJV) First, peace with God can only come from salvation in Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1) But even believers can be surrounded by trials of all descriptions just like David was often encircled by his enemies and feared for his life.

Inner, heart-felt contentment does not mean that the troubles go away. The believer can do the following three things and still have inner peace with God:

  1. Acknowledge the affliction for what it is. It exists, it’s real, and it’s happening to you now. God put it there for a purpose. Instead of ignoring it or wishing it would disappear, face it head-on.
  2. Complain to the right Person. Instead of pouring out your heart to your spouse, friends, or even our cat, it is always acceptable to pour out your heart to God. David did this often in the Psalms and still maintained his peace with God. His stomach was in knots as he cried out to God, yet he knew God was on his side.
  3. Look for a “lawful” solution. Burroughs suggests that we seek ways, “…simply to be delivered out of present afflictions by the use of lawful means.” He warns against, “…sinful shiftings and shirkings to get relief.” God has promised a way to escape from our trials when they become too hard to bear. (I Corinthians 10:13) For example, a way to escape crushing debt may be to negotiate a repayment plan. The solution must always be “lawful” and it must involve confession of sin if the problem is of our own making.

Sinful conduct will disrupt our contentment. We can fall into sinful patterns that ruin our fellowship with God and destroy our peaceful heart-attitude. Confess these to God and repent. Burroughs points to several things that rob us of our contentment, but I will address those in a future post.

These were some practical thoughts about spiritually content as a heart-matter. Next time we will look at the second half of Burrough’s definition and note that contentment is a spiritual matter.


When I Have Finished My Pilgrimage Here

…walk in the Spirit…live in the Spirit Galatians 5:16, 23

And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  I Thessalonians 5:23

The Bible speaks of the three-fold reality of our salvation as Past, Present, and Future.

Past Salvation

Our past salvation is called Justification, or being freed from the penalty of sin the moment we believed (Romans 6:11) because of the shed blood of Jesus Christ, “…the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” (Revelation 13:8b) This is sometimes called positional sanctification because it describes the believers heavenly position in Christ, seated in the heavenlies. Our sin (right now, in 2021) was dealt with once and for all when Jesus died on the cross and rose triumphantly to satisfy the Father’s justice against sin. In God’s transcendent (timeless) plan, we were saved long before we were born again.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:” Ephesians 1:3-4

“[God] hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,”  2 Timothy 1:9

We were saved when we trusted Jesus Christ and God gave us eternal life. Our position is secure in Christ for all eternity and cannot change. Now, we are also being saved as the Holy Spirit transforms us by the renewing of our minds to be more like Christ. (Romans 12:2)

Present Salvation

Even if we believed on Christ for salvation years or days ago, the Bible also speaks of our  being saved, which is an ongoing, lifelong process called Sanctification. This process is also called conditional sanctification because it varies during our lives depending on the hills and valleys of our walk with God. God’s plan for daily victory over the power of sin and Christian spiritual growth is a lifelong process. God’s plan of sanctification is explained in Paul’s Epistle to the Romans in Chapters 6-8. Our past salvation that regenerated us, means that we are no longer slaves to sin and have the supernatural ability to grow in the character of Christ. Paul argues that a believer can and should live a victorious life now.

Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” Romans 6:4

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son…” Romans 8:28-29

This is what Paul meant when he said, “…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;” (Philippians 2:12) Last week’s hymn, especially the chorus, mentioned the believer’s satisfaction with present salvation:

I’m satisfied, satisfied,

I’m satisfied with Jesus, the One who died for me;

I’m satisfied, satisfied,

I’m satisfied with Jesus, for he makes me free.

Future Salvation

We will be saved in the future from the presence of sin in what is called Glorification. Some call this eternal sanctification. Our glorification is spoken of by Peter as a future event that he calls “…an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (I Peter 1:4-5) Like any inheritance, our experience of the total absence of sin (blessed thought!) does not come until we enter God’s presence either by physical death or the Rapture. We look forward to the time when our earthly pilgrimage is over, sin is put away forever, pain and suffering end. “…now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.” (Romans 13:11)

Today’s hymn and chorus focus on our future salvation or glorification when we will be perfectly content in the presence of our Savior.


When I Have Finished My Pilgrimage Here

by A. H. Ackley *

When I have finished my pilgrimage here,

When I shall have vanished temptation and fear,

As in the arms of His love I abide,

I shall be satisfied.


I shall be satisfied,

(I shall be satisfied, I shall be satisfied,)

I shall be satisfied;

(I shall be satisfied, I shall be satisfied;)

Sheltered above by His infinite love,

I shall be satisfied.

When I am troubled by grief and despair,

Grace never-failing awaits me up there;

Willing to trust Him whatever betide,

I shall be satisfied. [Chorus]

When I have traveled the way with my Lord,

Counting the mileposts by faith in His word,

Living and dying with Him at my side,

I shall be satisfied. [Chorus]


* Alfred Henry Ackley (1887-1960) was born in Spring Hill, Pennsylvania. His father taught him music and he also studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London and be­came an ac­comp­lished cel­lo play­er. He graduated from Westminster Theological Seminary in Maryland and was ordained in 1914. He served in churches in Pennsylvania and California. He also worked with the Billy Sunday and Homer Rodeheaver evangelist team and for Homer Rodeheaver’s publishing company. He wrote around 1500 gospel and children’s songs.

Philippians 4:11-13 – A Brief Exposition

Philippians 4:11 is our theme verse regarding Christian Contentment and it appears in the context as the first of three verses which end with Paul’s “secret” to being content. It obviously isn’t a secret because he tells us that contentment does not rest in us, but in what Christ can do in us. He assured us near the beginning of his epistle that, “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)

Philippians 4:11-13

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” v. 11

Verses 10-19 is a discourse of how the Philippian believers supplied Paul with a gift to further his ministry. He assures them that even though it took a long time to reach him, he received it as a love gift and not because they were obliged to him. Their gift arrived late and he assured them that he was in no way offended or deprived by that. (v. 10) He assures them (v. 11a) that what he is about to tell them is not because he is in need of or asking for more frm them. He mentions three things:

  1. In Paul’s life of ministry he has learned something important through painful trials that apply to everyone. (See some examples in II Corinthians 11:23-28.)

  2. The lesson applies to every circumstance or trial which Paul elaborates on in the next verse.

  3. The result of these lessons is contentment. The Greek word for content is used only here in the New Testament and it is a word used by stoic philosophers of a man who is sufficient to himself for all things; able by the power of his own will to resist the shock of circumstance. It could be taken to mean self-reliance, but Paul explains what he means in the next sentence.

 “I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” v. 12

Paul isn’t spouting some philosophical or theoretical notion. His own personal experiences of humiliation, hunger, and suffering bear out his assertion. Listen to this man who has proven what he claims in the harsh reality of life:

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. v. 13

Paul’s contentment does not come from stoical endurance or brave independence. His secret is not self-sufficiency, but all-sufficiency in Christ; it is dependence on Christ in all circumstances. The word strengtheneth in Greek consists of the basic word for power or strength with a prefix indicating the joining of this power or enabling between “Christ” and “me.” Christ working in the believer’s life is empowering, not just to produce contentment, but in accomplishing “all things.” He bears testimony to this power when he asked God to heal him of an illness and God’s answer was another trial to glorify Christ: “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” II Corinthians 12:9

Next time – Jeremiah Burrough’s definition of Christian Contentment