Being Content (22-06-22)
Bible Reading: Philippians 4:10-14
I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, 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. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles.
Contentment, according to the dictionary, is ‘a mental state drawn from being at ease in one’s situation’ and, in today’s world, seems to be a rare commodity. The economy of this world is built largely on our discontent, whether it is with our looks, our clothes, our phones, our kitchens… the list is endless, and advertising fuels this discontent. In our modern world it is ironic that contentment is something that we have to work at, rather than something that comes naturally.
Contentment, it seems, is counter-cultural and, according to Paul, is a secret that has to be learned. Contentment, for Paul, came from his relationship with God. It was God who gave him the strength to trust and to cope when he was in need and it was God who gave him the grace to share with others when he was in plenty.
Like Paul, we have known times of plenty and times of need, and both times have their challenges. In times of need the challenge is to be content with less and to trust God to provide what we need, which he always does. This provision often comes via other people, as was Paul’s experience with the Christians in Philippi while he was in prison. Hearing of his situation, they renewed their concern for him and shared in his troubles.
Being content in times of plenty is also a challenge; I could upgrade my phone, but do I really need to? I wonder whether the challenge to be content in times of plenty is actually the greater challenge, because then we have choices; choices whether to spend, whether to save or whether to give away to support many of the needs around us.
To be content with our non-upgraded lives may not be good for business but could be good for the soul. Paul clearly rejoiced when the Philippian Christians came to his help and supported him in his need, and although he had learnt to be content with less, it also felt good for him to know that they were sharing in his troubles. I think the Philippians too would have been blessed to know that they were making a difference to someone else’s life.
I wonder how you would score yourself on a ‘contentment scale’, whether you are in need or in plenty? If you are in need, can you be content in the knowledge that God will meet your needs? If you are in plenty, can you be content with what you have and ask him how you should handle the plenty?
Pray: (From Beauty for brokenness)
Lord, end our madness, carelessness, greed,
Make us content with the things that we need.
Beauty for brokenness