Learning Contentment (Philippians 4:11)
Philippians 4:11, Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content
Paul said, “I have learned”. Lessons on contentment come from going through the best times and the bad times, the prosperous times and the poor times. Content means self-complacent; that is contented. Paul’s contentment was not just in the good times, but in whatever state he was in. No matter if he was in prosperity or famine, mountains for valleys, he was content. Do you want contentment but find it hard to achieve? Be encouraged. Even Paul, an admirable Christ follower, realized being content was something he had to learn. If Paul had to pursue contentment, let’s recognize our need to work on it, too by allowing the Lord to teach us. Contentment encourages true joy in eternal things. As your contentment grows, so does your joy in the eternal. For example, looking forward to digging deep into your Bible and can’t wait to hear God speak to you.
Be Content Where You Are.
The story is told about a pilot who always looked down intently on a certain valley in the Appalachians when the plane passed overhead. One day his co-pilot asked, “What’s so interesting about that spot?” The pilot replied, “See that stream? Well, when I was a kid I used to sit down there on a log and fish. Every time an airplane flew over, I would look up and wish I were flying... Now I look down and wish I were fishing.” Learn from those, both the covetous and the content that the Lord has placed near you. Allow Him to teach you the joy and those who are content and the misery of the covetous. Jesus is calling out to you to a settled place of satisfaction in Him.
Be Content with Who You Are.
“Don’t be guilty of comparing your accomplishments or performances with those of any other preacher [or person]. To do so is to lessen your own effectiveness and frustrate the grace of God. You are you, and to attempt to become more is to become less.”--Dr. Raymond Barber. Contentment is the skill to remain persistently and purposefully in the presence of the Lord so that He can transform any plan into something significant. When we are content, we find it is the simple things make us happy. Like going for a walk with our spouse or a family member and talking about what’s important and what really matters. That’s a blessing of contentment.
Be Content with What You Have.
The story is told of a farmer who had lived on the same farm all his life. It was a good farm, but with the passing years, the farmer began to tire of it. He longed for a change—for something "better." Every day he found a new reason for criticizing some feature of the old place. Finally, he decided to sell, and listed the farm with a real estate broker who promptly prepared a sales advertisement. As one might expect, it emphasized all the farm's advantages: ideal location, modern equipment, healthy stock, acres of fertile ground, etc. Before placing the ad in the newspaper, the realtor called the farmer and read the copy to him for his approval. When he had finished, the farmer cried out, "Hold everything! I've changed my mind. I am not going to sell. I've been looking for a place like that all my life." It is always tempting to think that others have it better than we do, and that if we just had “a little more” everything would be fine. But contentment cannot be achieved by increasing possessions. Nothing will ever be enough.
In our covetous culture, genuine contentment is rare. The words, “I have enough” runs counter to our culture. Contentment and covetousness cannot coexist, you will live with one or the other. There’s nothing wrong with having money, but there’s something very wrong with money having you. “The contented man is never poor, the discontented never rich.” - George Eliot. We should not allow what we have or do not have to decide if we are content. Paul told Timothy, “And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.” (I Timothy 6:8). Anything above this is an added blessing, not a necessity of life. Often, we are discontent because we have taken for granted all the things God has given to us. “Contentment is realizing that God has already given me everything I need for my present happiness. Contentment is understanding that if I am not satisfied with what I have, I will never be satisfied with what I want.” -Bill Gothard. “If you are not satisfied with a little, you will not be satisfied with much.” - Sir James Mackintosh.
Points to Ponder:
Covetousness runs rampant in our culture, and contentment is rare.
God wants us to improve at this over the course of our lives, day by day.
Think of a situation you have faced when you had to make a choice between contentment and covetousness.
Questions to Consider:
Do you see the blessings of contentment in your life?
Do you spend more time thinking about people to influence or things to accumulate?
Do you know someone who needs this? Are you willing to share this devotion?
PRAYER: Lord, I do have enough because I have You. I have Your promises, Your faithfulness, Your strength, Your presence, and Your wisdom to face whatever happens in my life. I know I can trust You with my burdens. Forgive me for associating my happiness with anything external. Please help me to grow in the grace of contentment, so that I too can learn to be content in any situation. In Jesus name, Amen.
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Dr. Blackman is passionate about helping others grow in the grace of the Lord. His devotions are centered on how to grow closer to the Lord through a personal relationship.