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The Secret of Contentment

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I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 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. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
(Philippians 4:10-13 ESV)

At the time Paul penned this letter he was in prison in Rome facing possible execution. He would have been unable to earn a living while in custody. His current situation and future prospects looked pretty grim. Yet he never expresses any worry or anger in this letter. In fact, this letter to the Philippians is filled with messages of joy.

This was possible because Paul had “learned” to be content in any situation. Notice that contentment has to be learned. Perhaps that is why God withheld support from the Philippians. Perhaps during this time God was teaching Paul how to be content despite his circumstances.

This is a lesson that few people learn today, especially in our culture. We can never have enough. Television advertising convinces us that we need this and we need that when really we don’t need the majority of what we already do have. We are led to believe that if we just had a different car or the latest smartphone or whiter teeth we will be content.

When asked how much money is enough, famous billionaire John D. Rockefeller infamously replied, “Just a little bit more”. Our lives are a non-stop pursuit of contentment because no material possession, no amount of money, and no amount of sex can ever satisfy [Luke 12:15].

The sad truth is that most people in the United States are living unfilled, discontent lives because they are trying to attain contentment in the wrong places. We try to find it in our careers, or in sex, or in our dysfunctional families. But our deepest needs can never be met by any of these things.

There is only one place to find contentment as Paul tells us right here in this passage. The only place to find contentment is “through him who strengthens”. Contentment can only be found in Christ.

I believe God created us with an inherent need for contentment. When we try to satisfy that need with earthly things we will be always be disappointed. We will live unsatisfied lives that are a never-ending pursuit of contentment.

But when we set our hearts on things above, we will learn to live with whatever we have in this life. There is only one way the human heart can be satisfied. And that is by having a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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1 Comment

  1. redemxionpbc says:

    Im so glad somebody has revealed what I have learnt about myself in being content.
    Well said.

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