Choose to be Content.
“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. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13)
How content are you today? This lockdown has affected us all differently. Some of us have had a relatively easy lockdown, while for others of us it’s been one of the most difficult times in our life. Wherever you are on that spectrum, the message from today’s passage is the same: contentment is a choice.
Society would have us believe that contentment is correlated with comfort: the more we have, the more content we are. But you only have to look at all the discontented comfortable people to know what rubbish that is. Some of the least content people on the planet are also the richest. On the flip side, some of the poorest people in the world are also the happiest. Contentment has nothing to do with comfort or possessions.
Consumer marketing wants us to believe that if we get enough stuff, we’ll be content. Get this or that, the latest gadget, toy or accessory, and you’ll be happy. We might want those things, but we also know that the joy of them wears off pretty quickly after we’ve had them for a while. That’s not where contentment lies. If you’re always chasing the next thing to be content, you’ll always be chasing contentment.
What does the Bible say? It says that we can be content in ‘any and every situation’, regardless of how well fed, clothed or heeled we are. Paul had lived through riches and poverty, hunger and plenty, comfort and chaos. He knew that in any of those situations you could choose to be content or you could choose to crave.
The Bible says that there’s a secret to being content, only it’s not so secret. The secret is: choose to be content. Thank God for what you have more than you badger Him for what you don’t. Enjoy what He’s given you until He decides to give you more. Don’t compare your situation to others, because comparison kills contentment. For all you know, the person with less might be happier than you and the person with more might by dying inside.
The Bible also says that contentment is fuelled by God’s strength. So often we take verse 13 out of context and use ‘I can do all this through Him who gives me strength’ to justify and turbocharge whatever we’re doing, whether it’s God’s will or not. This verse has nothing to do with attainment or ambition, but everything to do with attitude. With God’s strength we can be content in a way that defies circumstances. With God’s strength, we can know joy and peace whatever happens.
It’s knowledge to read this passage and know what it says. It’s experience that links this passage with what we’ve lived through and know it to be true. But it’s wisdom to learn from Paul what so few people ever really learn. Take it from one who knew this: you can never be content through chasing fame and fortune. You only be content with God’s strength, accepting what He has given you and enjoying it to the utmost.
So now you know the secret of being content. It’s not easy to live it out when so many things and people tell us what we’re lacking, but that’s why we need God’s strength, and to keep grounding ourselves in the truth of His word. Every time you find yourself being discontented, come back to this passage, and remind yourself to be grateful for what you have. Over time, this habit can build a power attitude of contentment that can weather all the ups and downs of life.
Choose to be content today.
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