Abased and Content…Pondering Together


Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 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.  Philippians 4:11-12

“I know how to be abased….”  Abased As I read this Scripture, I understand, sort of, what that word means, but I want to dig deeper to really know what Paul was saying here.

In the Greek, the word, itself, can be interpreted in slightly different ways.



Pronunciation:  tä-pā-no’-ō
  1. to make low, bring low:  to level, reduce to a plain
2.  to bring into it humble condition, reduce to meaner circumstances; i. e. α. to assign a lower rank or place to; to abaseto be ranked below others who are honored or rewarded: to humble or abase myself, by frugal living; of one who submits to want; of one who stoops to the condition of s servant.
3. to lower, depress. humble: one’s soul, bring down one’s pride; to have a modest opinion of oneself, to behave in an unassuming manner devoid of all haughtiness; to confess and deplore one’s spiritual littleness and unworthiness, (he afflicted his soul), of persons fasting, to disturb, distress, the soul of one.

4. to humiliate: to submit oneself in a lowly spirit to the power and will of God; equivalent to to put to the blush


From several different Bible versions, this word, abased, is also translated:

NIV – I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

ESV – I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound.  In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.

NASB – I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.

NET – I have experienced times of need and times of abundance. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of contentment, whether I go satisfied or hungry, have plenty or nothing.

Matthew Henry’s Commentary:  “To accommodate ourselves to an afflicted condition-to know how to be abased, how to be hungry, how to suffer want, so as not to be overcome by the temptations of it, either to lose our comfort in God or distrust His providence, or to take any indirect course for our own supply.”

So when afflicted, God wants us to know that this is part of living in and for Him.  This Christian life is not all perfect and beautiful.  There are hard times and lowly times.  When times look up, He desires that we know His ways through which we handle those, as well.

“To a prosperous condition-to know how to abound, how to be full, so as not to be proud, or secure, or luxurious. And this is as hard a lesson as the other; for the temptations of fulness and prosperity are not less than those of affliction and want.”

Jesus is the Way through which we can handle every aspect of life.  Jesus is our Comforter and our Provider.  He is the One Who strengthens us from moment to moment.  No matter what situation we find ourselves in or put ourselves in, we need to look to the One Who is strong and will strengthen us in order to walk through each stage of life, each step in life.

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.  My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.  Psalm 121:1-2

We are to learn to walk in this life, in this world content…in every situation, in all circumstances…content.  What now does “content” mean?  Verse 11 uses this word in one way or another to describe the way we should be in any and all types of life’s experiences whether good or bad, rich or poor, healthy or sick, etc.

in the Greek:



sufficient for oneself, strong enough or possessing enough to need no aid or support

independent of external circumstances

accepting of one’s lot, with one’s means, though the slenderest

Being content seems to come from within ourselves from these definitions, yet being able to handle all or any situation truly must come through Christ.

“But how must we learn it? I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, v. 13. We have need of strength from Christ, to enable us to perform not only those duties which are purely Christian, but even those which are the fruit of moral virtue. We need his strength to teach us to be content in every condition. The apostle had seemed to boast of himself, and of his own strength: I know how to be abased; but here he transfers all the praise to Christ. “What do I talk of knowing how to be abased, and how to abound? It is only through Christ who strengthens me that I can do it, not in my own strength.’ So we are required to be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might, and to be strong in the grace which is in Christ Jesus; and we are strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man. The word in the original is a participle of the present tense, en toµ endynamounti me Christoµ, and denotes a present and continued act; as if he had said, “Through Christ, who is strengthening me, and does continually strengthen me; it is by his constant and renewed strength I am enabled to act in every thing; I wholly depend upon him for all my spiritual power.'”  Matthew Henry’s Commentary on Philippians 4


I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.
Philippians 4:13

Father God, You have given us life.  Each precious breath is from You.  We are given those breaths one at a time just as we are given the strength we need to handle abasement and abundance.  You want us to depend upon You from moment-to-moment, breath-upon-breath.  You call us to lean on Your understanding and not our own.  You ask us to ask and pray.  You call upon us to live for You, loving and caring for others.  I pray that I am able.

Preserve my life, for I am holy;
You are my God;
Save Your servant who trusts in You!  Psalm 86:2 

May my eyes and heart stay upon You, and may I lean neither to the right or to the left but directly upon You.  I also want to be pleasing unto You, LORD, and to stay near to You.Now may our God and Father Himself, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way to you.  And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you, so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.  1 Thessalonians 3:11-13

In the Holy Name of Christ Jesus, I pray.  Amen.

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15 thoughts on “Abased and Content…Pondering Together

  1. Linda, this is EXCELLENT! I truly love a study of the Word that goes into great detail and depth. You did that here. Bravo!
    I think a study of the scriptures in this way gives us a fuller understanding of God’s timely truths. It enriches our walk with Him.
    Thanks for writing this!


  2. “So when afflicted, God wants us to know that this is part of living in and for Him. This Christian life is not all perfect and beautiful.” This is true, but the beauty is that He is with us through the good and the bad, leading us and traveling with us all the way. He is our strength. Phil. 4:13 is what I’d consider my life’s verse.

    Blessings to you, Linda! I’m happy to be your neighbor this week at #TuneInThursday.


  3. Great post. I like to look at word meanings too when studying the Bible as well as different versions of the Bible. I find it really helps us to understand the meaning behind the words. I’ve not come across this passage in the Bible yet but when I do, I’ll know what it means.


  4. Learning to be content when things are good and not so good. I think that is possible only if we keep our eyes focused on Christ and fill our mind with his truth. I know if I am looking at my situation and relying on my self, it seems contentment flees quickly from me. Thanks for the word study.


  5. Beautiful, Linda! You are a #WordNerd at heart. I love it! We must learn to lean on God no matter what our circumstances. To boast of Him in abundance and praise Him despite abasement. Blessings!


  6. Linda, thank you so much for these word studies. It has given me a deeper understanding of what Paul meant here. It makes me think of Bettie’s posts on Christ sufficiency – how she has seen God take her places where she has felt unable to serve, but has seen God’s sufficiency move into her own lack. It is so encouraging isn’t it? Our accuser loves to fix our eyes upon our lack alone, but God turns our eyes to who HE is precisely in our weakness.

    It is quite a humbling experience, isn’t it? I’m learning how pride keeps my eyes on my lack and how humility keeps my eyes both on my need AND Christ’s provision. When I first got to know a refugee friend of mine I confessed to another friend that I felt like I couldn’t really help her in the way she needed it because I had never been through the deep trauma she has. But my friend fixed my eyes on God and now, after more than a year, I am seeing what GOD has been able to gift through me, as I humbled myself and relied upon His provision. He was able to give my friend what she needed most. And oh the JOY it is to see her coming out of her shell and growing in the confidence of her identity in Christ.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Dear Linda, Thank you for sharing this! I am continually in need of these lessons from Jesus–He is my sufficiency, and all my contentment. When the days feel too heavy for me to handle, it is only HE who makes the way possible before me. I am just so grateful that He wants to help us lean on HIM! These were just the words I needed to hear tonight. Blessings to you, dear friend!

    Liked by 1 person

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