Our society is plagued with discontentment. It is everywhere. It is on the television, on the radio, on billboards, it’s all around you! With such strong presence in your life, it is tough to not let it infiltrate your thoughts.
Is there any wonder why so many people live unfulfilled lives? They are constantly seeking the next big thing that will help subdue the longing inside of them. But, you don’t have to live that way. You can be different. You can find contentment in this world so filled with uneasiness.
How you ask? Let’s take a look at what a very wise man wrote many years ago. The man was the Apostle Paul. The words he wrote are found in the book of Philippians, chapter 4 verses 10-13.
Remember Paul wrote this from a prison. He had been falsely accused by Jews. Chained to a Roman guard 24 hours a day. He had lost most of his freedoms. He had no income. He had little of what we would call life’s benefits. He had nothing but, yet he needed nothing.
10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 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 and every 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.
Paul gives us these five keys in this passage. Here they are…
Paul had confidence in God’s provision – verse 10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me.
Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it.. 10 years had passed since Paul visited this church or since he was there – Acts 16. He founded this church. He had been very close to these people, but in ten years they had not given him anything. And we don’t know why.
You will notice here that Paul does not criticize them. He does not belittle them for not helping him. Why? Because he has a confidence in the fact that God will provide for his needs. And that God will do it in the right time and manner. He can wait on the Lord and be content. The problem with us is that we can look to people for our help. And when you look to people, you get what people can do. But when you look to God, you get what God can do. Paul is content because he is confident in God’s control of his life.
Paul was content with little – verse 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.
Look at our American culture. We have everything but contentment. Think about this – the more a person has, the more discontent he becomes. Why? Because what happens as those things age, as they break down, as they rust? Look at cars. All of them were brand new at one time. All of them had that new car smell. That nice glossy shine. But what happens over time? The smell goes away. The glossy shine fades. And that car which once brought us so much happiness, is now a source of discontentment and you start looking for the next new car.
Paul had been in situations where he had much and where he had little. And he learned that his contentment is not based on what is he possessed.
Paul was content despite circumstances – verse 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 and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
It is amazing to me how quickly our circumstances can rob us of contentment.
Paul was not immune to this, however, he did not let it rob him of his peace. He knew contentment was independent of circumstances. Basically what Paul is saying here is, “Whatever the circumstances are, I am fine. Whatever the circumstance, I am content.” His contentment was grounded somewhere other than his circumstances.
Paul experienced Christ’s strength – verse 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
How can this happen? Paul had experience many hardships. You can look up 2 Corinthians 11:23-28 for more insight. This passage points out many hardships Paul had to endure. Which brings to mind the questions: How can Paul be content when beaten? How can he be content when inadequately clothed? How can he be content when hungry? Paul was content because he experienced God’s divine power. Paul was disciplined, very disciplined – but discipline is not enough. He recognized his need to have Christ work in and through him so that he could experience this divine contentment.
Paul was more concerned about others – verse 17 Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account.
Paul was not looking for a gift. He was looking at how he could give someone else credit for this gift. In the middle of these awful conditions, he was still thinking of others.
If you are going to be content you have to get your eyes off of yourself. News Flash – the world does not revolve around you! Some of the most discontent people I have ever met have themselves at the center of their life.
You have to stop allowing yourself to be consumed by how you feel. You have to stop continually thinking about your circumstances. Get your eyes off of yourself. When you have that kind of other minded attitude, you will know contentment.
What can you do with this?
Well, for starters, if you don’t know contentment, true contentment, turn to Christ. He is the only source of true contentment in a world that has been ravaged by discontentment.
How can you turn to Christ? Ask Him to forgive you of your selfish ways. Believe that He is willing and able to forgive you of your selfishness. Confess He as the leader of your life. Next, I would encourage you to find a Bible believing church close to you and get plugged in. Click here for the locations of churches next to you.
What if you do know Christ as the leader of your life? Stop allowing the things around you to rob you of you contentment. Turn back to Christ. Revelation 2:5 says, 5 Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. The beautiful thing about Christ is that He is always there for you. You just have to take that first step.