A Learned Contentment

Philippians 4:11-13 “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.”

Are you content?  Is your soul satisfied?  Of course, the opposite of this attitude is discontentment, anxiety, and frustration.  Paul tells us in Philippians 4 that one of the most wonderful things that he learned as he matured in his relationship with Christ was to be content in every circumstance of life.  He had developed the ability to not let the circumstances of life control his attitudes about life. 

Paul mentions here the extremes of life – times of great plenty versus times of great need.  It is in times of plenty that we may be tempted to be satisfied, but so satisfied that we begin to turn our attention toward the plenty and from the One who gave us plenty.  This was Israel’s constant experience throughout their history as recorded in the Bible.  We are told that in one of those times when God had greatly prospered Israel, that “Jeshurun (another name for Israel, which means “upright one”) grew fat, and kicked; you grew fat, stout, and sleek; then he forsook God who made him and scoffed at the Rock of his salvation (Deuteronomy 32:15).” Another example of this attitude is found in Luke 12:19-20, where the rich man said “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’  But we are then told “But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’”  

God is teaching us here that in times of plenty we are to be grateful to Him and resist the temptation to become proud and self-sufficient as if we didn’t need Him.  On the other hand, in times of need we can be tempted to complain and grumble rather than trust God to meet our needs in His own good timing. This again was Israel’s bad example throughout their time of wandering in the wilderness, never grateful for what they had, but always complaining about what they didn’t have. 

God help us to learn the perspective that Paul learned as we walked through life with Christ.  God help us to learn to continually trust this One who will never leave us nor forsake us, no matter what our circumstances, and to face each day with an attitude of gratitude and faith.

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