by Chad Kritenbrink
“If we are not satisfied with what we have, we will never be satisfied with what we want.”
Have you ever thought, “When I get this or when that happens, then I’ll be happy,” about something that didn’t end up making you happy?
I want to be transparent up front, the secret of contentment is something that I in no way have figured out. It’s something I desire for my own heart.
Scripture commands us to be content in all situations and circumstances. When things are as we think they should be, it can be relatively easy to be content, but what happens when life doesn’t go as planned or we feel things should be different?
Arguably the greatest missionary in human history, the Apostle Paul saw God do great and marvelous things. Paul also experiencing great challenges and suffering. He was ultimately martyred.
How was Paul able to remain content in the difficult circumstances?
Phillipians 4:10-20 is a great place to start.
“I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity.
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. Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only.
Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit.
I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.
And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.”
Four Observations from Paul
1. Paul “learned” to be content- contentment is a learned skill, it doesn’t happen naturally. Contentment goes against our sinful nature.
2. Contentment is not based on external circumstances, it comes from knowing who we belong to.
3. Christ is the source of contentment and strength. Paul was content because of his relationship with Christ. In Christ what do we lack? What can cause us to be discontent if we are in relationship to him?
4. God is the one who supplies our needs. What we want and what we need are two different things. God never neglects, so there is never a need that is not met.
Two Causes of Discontentment
Lack of Trust
The real issue of contentment is whether we trust Jesus to determine what is good for me and what is not. Too often in my own life, I want to determine the content – money, position, family or circumstances for example – as opposed to allowing God to.
Comparison is the enemy of contentment; there will always be people who possess a greater quality or quantity of what we (not God) think we should have.
So Whats the Secret?
Rest in our Good Savior and his ability to determine the content of our lives.
Trust that the Lord alone knows what is best for us – and whoever else we might be comparing our own blessings to. He loves us enough to use our present circumstances to accomplish His eternal good.
Contentment is not found in having everything, but in being satisfied with everything we have.
As Paul told Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:7-8,
“We have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.”
Paul acknowledged God’s right to determine his circumstances, even if it meant taking him down to nothing.
Paul’s contentment was grounded not in how much he had but in the One who had him.
Let us never forget who we belong to.
When we take our eyes off Christ, we become distracted to the lesser things that leave us empty and wanting more.
ITMI Ministry Associate, Chad Kritenbrink, is passionate about making disciples and equipping others to do so. He is a part time chaplain for the US National Guard.