The Gospel is the doctrine and the science of Christ. We do not simply adhere to this doctrine, but we are practitioners of it.
“Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you” Philippians 4:9
Several times, Paul the Apostle of Grace makes the statement “I have learned”. By implication, the Lord Jesus Christ unveiled the gospel to Paul but the things that Paul learned were not included. This is the power of the imperative. There are a number of domains where Paul states that he has learned, one of which is learning to live worry-free.
To walk in the peace of God is a deliberate choice. The Lord Jesus Christ said that in this world, you will have tribulation. The term translated as tribulation is the Greek term “thlipsis”, which refers to pressures of all sorts. In other words, this cosmos is arranged in such a manner that there will always be various degrees of pressure applied on you. But Jesus says, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace…but be of good cheer” (John 16:33).
It is possible to live in a manner that the external pressures are inconsequential to the peace of God within you. Worry, anxiety, is to departmentalize within our minds the sacred from the secular and to assume that there are domains in our lives that do not matter to God. Such thought processes are sinful because they misrepresent the true character of our heavenly Father. In order to live beyond the grasp of worry, we need to learn how to cast our cares upon the Lord with thanksgiving because He cares for you. We are to translate our request into thanksgiving each time we pray because thanksgiving implies that you acknowledge that it is already done. You cannot continue to worry if you believe it is already done. To that effect, thanksgiving is a therapy to your mind to persuade you of the alreadiness of grace. Whatever is described as being in Christ is already yours now.
The peace of God is always within you at all times, but it may not always have its full effect because if your mind chooses to worry, you become distracted from the peace of God within you. The power of mastery is simply letting go of the things that seek to control you. Jesus demonstrated His authority over the storm by going to sleep. If the disciples did not wake him up, he would not have woken up. He demonstrated His authority over the storm in the form of rest.
“But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” Philippians 4:10-11
Not everything comes by revealed knowledge. When Paul says, “I have learned”, he is talking about what he underwent practically in the experience of his life. The term “state” is the contrast of the term “standing”. Our position in Christ is permanent. It is inviolable. It is not affected by anything. Our state refers to our condition, our temporary and natural estate of life. Being temporal, it is subject to change.
Contentment is not learning to be satisfied with what you have per se. Most people think of the term “contentment” from the state of not having enough. I have learned that most Christians get derailed from the things of God when they prosper. This is because they do not learn contentment. Contentment is learned because it does not come naturally.
The word “content” is translated from the Greek word “autarkes”, from the term “autarkeia”, which means to be all-sufficient. “Autarkes” means to have sufficiency within oneself. By the term “content”, Paul was saying he was a master of all circumstances; he was independent of whatever circumstance in which he found himself. He did not mean that he would just be happy with what he had, should he find himself in a position where he did not have adequate resources. Contentment does not speak about possession but a state of being whereby we acknowledge the all-sufficiency of Christ moment by moment. Contentment refers to awakening to one’s true identity that our life does not consist of things.
This article is an extract from the series titled “Learning to Practice the Imperatives” by Dr. Shawn Smith.