Philippians 4:11-13 (NIV-1984) "I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstance. 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 everything through him who gives me strength."
Recently, I've been wrestling with contentment. I want something that God is not ready to give me. I don't think my desire is bad, but when I allow it to effect my mood, there's a deeper problem. I'm acting no differently than a 2yr. old spoiled brat who isn't happy when she doesn't get her way.
Discontentment starts when we are disgruntled with our circumstances or surroundings. We may start to compare our lives to others who seem to have it so much better or easier than we do. Then jealousy, the wicked step-sister of discontentment, begins to putrefy. Before we know it, we start to verbally poison our audience with our covetousness by complaining.
Maybe you can identify with a following situation or two:
- You thought you were content until your co-workers' husband sent her a bouquet of flowers.
- You thought you were content until you compared your summer vacation plans with your friends'.
- You thought you were content until you rode in your girlfriends' new luxurious Lexus.
- You thought you were content until your sister redecorated her living room with the new leather furniture you're still saving to buy.
- You thought you were content until another child in class received an award you thought your child was deserving of.
- You thought you were content until your potluck dish remained untouched.
- You thought you were content until your friends' bought a bigger house than yours.
- You thought you were content until your girlfriend lost more weight than you.
- You thought you were content until your nemesis received a job promotion before you.
Coveting, comparing and complaining are a big deal. They are the tap root to discontentment. Recognizing their toxic seed is important. It prevents other ugliness from festering and taking up residence in our heart. Sometimes our longing for more is a reminder that we are not created for this world. Other times, this yearning can also show us that any desire we strive to fulfill outside of Christ is a misplaced idol.
Jealousy and comparison are footholds for the enemy. These infectious weaknesses cripple our ability to be joyful for others when they receive something we may want. When we catch ourselves in this trap we can thank God for our many blessings, recall Scripture and ask Him to replace our dissatisfaction with contentment.
The Greek word for "content" Paul uses in Philippians 4:11 is "autarkes". It means to be "sufficient for one's self, independent of external circumstances or contented with one's lot, with one's means, though the slenderest." (studylight.org)
When I consider the vast array of situations Paul endured, honestly, how could He do it? There is no other explanation other than him being totally filled with Christ. Philippians 4:11-13 offers encouragement to those struggling with contentment. Paul teaches us Christ is our source of fulfillment regardless of what we are up against.
Being satisfied in Christ rendered any other perceived emptiness of Paul obsolete because he learned to be content, no matter what. Learning to be content is a process he was well trained in. Paul depended on Christ for everything. In Christ, he was sustained. In Christ, his longings were met. In Christ, Paul was complete. Notice verse 13. Paul was able to endure any and every situation because it was God who gave him the strength to do so.
As I face this adverse circumstance it is essential for me to remember, like Paul, only Christ can complete me. He is enough. Learning dependence on Him is vital to my spiritual growth.
As I yield to God, He is teaching me during my grapple with contentment. Specifically, my life is not all about me, it is all about Him. Secondly, I must choose to exude joy despite my circumstances. Finally, He is purging selfishness from my heart and replacing it with gratitude.
Coveting, comparing, complaining. . . . . contentment . . . . . Oh God of second and umpteenth chances . . . . . here I am, again.
Pick a verse at the bottom and make an effort to memorize it this week. Recalling Scripture can deter us from sin and keep our hearts focused on truth.
Write down fifty blessings off the top of your head. Spend time thanking and praising God for them. It's amazing how a heart of gratitude can curb the grumbles.
When are you tempted to feel discontent? Do you tend to make comparisons with others lives and yours?
How are you presently struggling with contentment? Ask God to fill you with gratitude despite your circumstance.
Father, I pray you will give me the strength to be content in any and every circumstance. Work in me and out of me the things that are necessary to further bring You glory.
Heart Changing Word:
Luke 3:14b (NIV) "He replied, 'Don't extort money and don't accuse people falsely - be content with your pay.' "
Luke 12:15 "Then he said to them, 'Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.' "
1 Timothy 6:6-8 "But Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that."
Hebrews 13:5 "Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.' "
Copyright 2012 by Hester Christensen. All rights reserved.