*Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content (Philippians 4: I I).
Related to the virtue of «humbleness» are modesty and contentment. Modesty is a principle wherein excessive self-attention is avoided, while contentment implies the acceptance of what one possesses, without expecting changes of external circumstances in order to be satisfied.
One summer, I (L) * some of my uncles from Argentina came to visit me. One afternoon, while we were contemplating my house that was still under construction, I talked to them about everything that was to be done in order to finish it. my uncle let out a sigh and said:
«You are really going to enjoy it when it is finished!»
I remember that we were sitting under the shade of a tree, eating a juicy watermelon. dogs were resting by our side and the chickens were enjoying the remains of the fruit we gave them. It is true that we still had a long way to go for the house to be finished, but instead of thinking about it, we redirected our focus on what we were enjoying at the moment.
Diogenes of Sinope, a student of Socrates, was a Greek philosopher who considered it wise to reduce his needs and free himself of desires. He took this philosophy to such an extent that he lived as a homeless on the streets of Athens, because he considered extreme poverty a virtue. He lived in a tub and only had a cane, a satchel, a cloak, and a mug. he saw a child drinking water from his hands; from that moment on, he gave away his mug too.
Though Diogenes’s idea may seem exaggerated and questionable, it is interesting to observe how little we need to live. The apostle Paul says, «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 (Phil. 4:11, 12), and «Now godliness with contentment is great gain. . . . And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content» (I Tim. 6:6-8). When the apostle says «I have learned to be content,» this means that he was not born with the gif of contentment, but he acquired it through experience and God’s help.
In a world where the misleading message «happy is the one who is wealthy» is published, contentment is not frequently advertised. It is good to know that we don’t need to wait to own this or that to be happy. We can be thankful right now; today, we have so much to be happy about. We can choose to be satisfied no matter what our situation may be. Just like the apostle Paul, we can say, «I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me» (Phil. 4:13).
The personal stories written by Dr. Laura Fidanza are indicated by an (L).