The Apostle not once but twice in the book of Philippians speaks about contentment. The passage is found in the book of Philippians 4:11-13: “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 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 situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
In verse 11, Paul states that regardless of his circumstances, he has learned to be content. He follows up in verse 12 with the declaration that he “has learned the secret” of being content. There are a couple of things that nearly jump off the page for me. Paul says he has learned to be content. This would indicate that we are not born being content. If you have had children or been around children, you would immediately know that babies are not born mastering contentment. This is not only true for infants; it is likewise real for many adults. How do you learn contentment? I do not think it is by taking a class on the subject or merely reading a book. You come to know contentment in the school of circumstances! It is an action as well as a reaction to life’s events. Everything does not always go as planned. There are setbacks and disappointments along the way. In every experience in life, I must not learn to master the subject of contentment. In verse 12, Paul indicates that he “has learned the secret of contentment.” Not only is it discovered and not an attribute received at birth, but it is also a secret. The Apostle is not using secret as in a mystery or something that is unknowable, but that not everyone will find it because they are looking for it in the wrong place! Some think that contentment is found in possessions, positions, power, and our plans. Discontent is not just the experience of people without resources and friends; it seems to be humanity’s shared experience.
Do you want to know the secret? Paul states it in verse 13: “I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.” Contentment comes to those who have placed their trust in Christ. Regardless of your situation today, true peace comes only through Jesus Christ.
How do we respond to the difficulties of life and cultivate a life of contentment?
- Develop a sense of gratitude! Regardless of the wins and losses, ups and downs, focus on the goodness of God. Remember, He is in control, and He has blessed you.
- Develop a good memory: When I am going through a trial and am tempted to think I will not survive, I pause and remember all the times in my life when I thought the same thing. That I am here today is a testimony to the goodness and blessings I have received from God. If He has brought me through all of my past troubles. He can bring me through this difficulty!
- Learn to wait and rely upon the Lord. A good deal of my problems in life have come because I wanted to run ahead of God. I did not want to wait; I wanted to seize the moment. God’s timing is always the best! It is in the waiting that I develop trust as well as contentment. Reliance upon the Lord is a by-product of contentment.
Are you able to say today with conviction as well as contentment, I can do everything through Him who gives me strength?