Learning Contentment

Most of us have struggled with the concept of contentment. Our culture is doing all it can to convince us that we should not be content. The world says that we have to have more stuff or better circumstances to be content. Webster defines the word “content” as “pleased and satisfied: not needing more.” How are you doing with being content right now where you are and with what you have?

In reading through Philippians, Paul’s words challenged me. Notice what he said in Phil. 4:11-13.

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

It is easy to forget that Paul spoke these words while in prison. He had experienced great need and abundance and in the process of life learned the valuable lesson of contentment. He could be content with little or much; in good circumstances or bad.

A biblical definition of the Greek word for contentment is “pertaining to being happy or content with what one has—‘content with the circumstances in which one exists.’” (Louw and Nida)

This definition points out that contentment can be found regardless of circumstances or the things we possess. Therefore, contentment is not found in stuff or circumstances. The solution is found in the last verse. It is found only in the Lord. Contentment comes from him and in my relationship to him. Circumstances and possessions come and go. I need to learn from Paul and find contentment now, not in the future or when things change.

I remember a quote by Chuck Swindoll that I memorized years ago which says, “the good life, the one that truly satisfies, exists only when you stop wanting a better one. It is the condition of savoring what is rather than longing for what might be.” I need to learn how to savor the present regardless of the circumstances!

Father, thank you that you are the one who brings contentment in life. It is my relationship with you that allows me to appreciate what I have now and enables me to say it is enough. For me, this comes from having a grateful heart. I need to think right and count my blessings. You have been so good to me in the past and are now as well I need to think on these things and trust you with the future and all that awaits me there. Help me to live in the moment with a grateful heart so that I can find contentment in you rather than my possessions or circumstances.

Following Jesus with you.

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