“So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.” – 1 Timothy 6:8
Regardless of the state of our economy, we still long to have more stuff. But in our desire to acquire stuff, do we ever stop to ask ourselves when enough is enough? God’s Word tells us that when God meets all the basic necessities of life, contentment should follow. It is not hard to be content in times of plenty, but what about those times of need.
In his letter to the church in Philippi, the Apostle Paul shares the secret to being content: “ Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:11-13)
At the time of writing the letter, Paul was living in a Roman prison. Before that, he’d been beaten within an inch of his life, betrayed, and left for dead. Through the soaring highs and devastating lows of his life, God taught Paul to keep his eyes on the prize: the salvation of Jesus Christ. Nothing else matters. Look at what he says next in verse 12: “I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.” Paul realized that contentment is an attitude we learn and not a thing we achieve. Paul got it. He could be content with little. He could be content with much. He had learned to be content regardless of his circumstances.
Contentment is not about our circumstances. Contentment is God doing something inside of us. The good news is that we all can learn how to become fully content with who we are, what we are, and what we’re doing. We can learn how to be content by thanking God for what we do have instead of focusing on what we don’t have.
The truth is, contentment does not come naturally. Paul learned it. This means contentment is a trait we must develop, a discipline we should all be striving for. Paul’s secret is that he is always striving to do what God has called him to do. At the end of the day, he has done everything he could to be faithful to God’s call on his life…. There is no complacency in Paul’s contentment, and neither should there be in ours.
Erik Raymond—pastor of Emmaus Bible Church in Omaha, Nebraska – in his book, Chasing Contentment: Trusting God in a Discontented Age defines contentment as “the inward, gracious, quiet spirit that joyfully rests in God’s providence.” Real contentment is found in God. When we believe that, it will dramatically transform the way that we live.
- Where’s the balance between being content and yet trying to better your situation or solve certain problems?
- How does your life change when you are truly content?
- What can you do this week to be more content?