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 suffer need” (Philippians 4:12)
Psychology offered distinct definitions of the word ‘intelligence’: the capacity of abstract reasoning, ability to solve problems, mental faculty to quickly and efficiently process information, schoolwork skills, among others. The biological definition is related to today’s text: intelligence is the ability to adapt. In fact, for many professionals, the intelligent individual is capable of facing new challenges and successfully dealing with them, moving to a new house, region or country and shortly adapting his life to a new situation, losing (or earning) financial revenues and conforming to the new situation. This is where the apostle offers us his testimony of knowing how to live in hardship or in prosperity according to the situations we are faced with.
I (J) have had the opportunity of living and working in England for a decade. There, I have noticed how some members of the upper class—owners of very valuable assets—had had their income reduced and had to decide between selling or getting into debt. While some got desperate by looking at their past, others took creative measures like, for example, opening their mansions to the public for an entry price, and allowing tourists and the curious ones to enter the magnificent halls to appreciate their art treasures and take photos of the beautiful surrounding gardens. ‘They did not find it pleasant to fill their house with strangers during the summer months, but the truth is that this was the only way they could pay the expenses of their estates and keep them in the family. They knew how to adapt to changes.
Paul refers to the contrasts of his own life: from the powerful and wealthy member of Sanhedrin (Acts 26:4, 5) to a follower of Jesus in adversities and poverty (2 Cor. 6:4, 5). The addiction problem, more than any other, needs this ability of adaptation, as it is very difficult without knowing the «secret») to abandon an addiction and never relapse. It is necessary to use Paul’s method to adapt to the new life without the addictive behavior. Is the adaptive capacity inherited or learned? According to the apostle Paul, it is learned. This is what he said, «I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content» (Phil. 4:11 He reveals the «secret» in the verse 13, «I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me» (Phil. 4: 13). Once again, we have to conclude that the ultimate solution to any kind of addiction is the power of Jesus.