...For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 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. ~ Philippians 4:11-12
What is the secret of contentment that Paul is talking about? Why do so many of us struggle with being content in our circumstances?
I believe we do not need to go very far on the page to find out what Paul is talking about. In the passage before, he tells us, "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again; Rejoice!" (Philippians 4:4)
1) Praise God no matter what. Sometimes our circumstances may seem so severe or hopeless we may find it difficult to praise God. Yet in verse 6, the Bible reminds us, "The Lord is near." We are not alone and we can always count our blessings! Lets face it. Most of us have not gone hungry yet or even missed any meals! When I am praising God, it takes the focus off of myself and puts the focus on God and who He is. And He is able!
More powerful passages follow...
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 4:6-7
2) Pray about everything and experience a peace beyond understanding. When we pray, we let go of our burdens and instead give them to God for Him to handle. In return, we experience peace knowing that He is in control.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things. ~ Philippians 4:8
3) Pure thoughts keep our focus right. Negative thoughts become negative attitudes. Before you know it, we have allowed the seeds of discontentment to be planted in our hearts and we are dissatisfied with our life. Keeping our mind on what is noble and true, etc. cultivates contentment.
Finally, Paul makes a statement immediately after his comments on learning the secret of contentment and it is one of the most popular verses in the Bible - a favorite of many. "I can do everything through him who gives me strength." (Philippians 4:13 NIV)
4) Possible only with Christ. I believe true contentment is not something we can learn in our own strength. The world is just too full of "the grass looks greener" temptations, or coveting the next best gadget or shiny thing that comes along and captures our attention. If we rely on our own strength instead of Christ, we will most certainly become discouraged and unhappy with the life God has blessed us.
More to come on contentment this week. God has been speaking to my heart on this issue in my own life. Meanwhile, let's thank God for his many blessings in our lives no matter what our circumstances.
I would love some comments. What are your thoughts on contentment? Do any of these verses hit home? What are some blessings you can thank God for today?
Lord, I Praise You for who You are. Thank you for all the ways that You provide even my simplest needs. Help me to remember to pray always, especially when I feel overwhelmed with life. I want to experience Your peace. Protect my thoughts and my mind, keeping my focus on things that are good and pure. And help me to learn the secret of being content in every situation with the help of Jesus Christ.
(c) 2011 Christy Long. All rights reserved.