Contentment

Philippians 4:10-13 ESV

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. [11] Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. [12] 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. [13] I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

INTRODUCTION

In times like the one we presently face, we are prone to be discontented. Our circumstances are not only unacceptable, they are intolerable. Our inability to be content serves only to exacerbate our misery.

Contentment is not only quietness of heart in the midst of adverse circumstances, it is finding one’s happiness and satisfaction in God whatever our circumstances might be. It is finding one’s sufficiency in God independent of circumstances.

By the way, contentment is not complacency; it isn’t laziness. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t improve your circumstances if you can. There’s a balance we ought to strike here, the one contained in the following prayer: “Lord grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

1. CONTENTMENT IS LEARNED.

Contentment is a secret – a mystery – to be learned. In a sense it’s similar to the peace that surpasses understanding. The world doesn’t understand it because the world lives by the sense of sight and not by faith. Only those who have been initiated into this mystery can appreciate it. It therefore doesn’t happen automatically. You will have to undergo a learning process which sometimes might be long and difficult.

Philippians 4:11-12 ESV

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. [12] 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.

This is probably one reason why God sends us and lets us remain in difficult circumstances in order for us to learn this great mystery of contentment.

2 Corinthians 12:7-9 ESV

So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. [8] Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. [9] But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

2. CONTENTMENT IS COMPREHENSIVE

It’s not only the poor who should learn to be content; the rich too ought to learn this! Contentment is necessary in both poverty and plenty.

(a) In Poverty

Here the tendency is to be bitter, desperate and resentful. Contentment here means rising above our circumstances and finding our sufficiency in God.

(b) In Plenty

Here the temptation is to forget God and find our sufficiency in ourselves. Contentment is needed here too if we are not to wander away from God. The irony is the more you have, the more you remain unsatisfied. Our hearts are an infinite abyss which only the infinite God can fill.

Ecclesiastes 1:8 ESV

All things are full of weariness; a man cannot utter it; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.

Here’s a prayer worth considering.

Proverbs 30:8,9 ESV

Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the LORD?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.

3. CONTENTMENT IS BY GRACE

On our own, we can’t be content. It is only through Jesus Christ that we can have the strength to be content.

Philippians 4:13 ESV

I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

John 15:5 ESV

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 ESV

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. [10] For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Philippians 4:19 ESV

[19] And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

If we go by the context (which is about contentment), the “need” here can refer to the need to be content, and that is what God will provide us with. He will supply us with the strength we need to be content.

Lord, help us to be contented whatever our circumstances may be. Help us to find our satisfaction in you because if we have you we have everything. Amen.

(Photo by Eleanor on Unsplash)Phi

Author: attycortes

Filipino lawyer, preacher, composer.

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