Paul found the secret to contentment. Here are his words:
Philippians 4: 11-12. “For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 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.”
Paul is saying that contentment is NOT in found in our circumstances or in what we have, but who we know.
Like the Israelite children, I get that confused. As they journeyed through the desert to the Promise Land, they did a lot of grumbling and complaining about their circumstances. They even grumbled when God wouldn’t give them what they wanted. Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians chapter 10 that because of their attitude God was not pleased and in one day 23 thousand of them died. You may not have a problem with grumbling and complaining, but I do. Bottom line, it robs me of my contentment—and worse—it displeases God.
Paul has a secret we need to know. He is talking about true joy—true contentment in ANY circumstances. He’s found the secret, but notice, it’s not something we get. Contentment is something we learn. Look back at the first verse. Paul said, “I have learned to be content.” The secret he learned is found in the word “mind.” True contentment is found in how we think. Consider verse 8 of Philippians.
“Finally, 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.”
Paul had 3 mind-sets that we need to adopt in order to learn contentment.
1.) Paul had a single mind. He had a clear purpose. His mind was set. He knew for whom and for what he was living for. You and I were created by God for God. We were designed to live for Him. Living for too many things leaves us empty, but fulfilling our God-given purpose fills us with satisfaction beyond our imagination.
2.) Paul had a growing mind. While he had experienced much hardship in his life, shipwrecked, hunger, jail, Paul didn’t allow his past pain to rob his peace for today. How did he do that? Paul grew from his experiences. He allowed the adversity in his life to fulfill its benefits. Yes, there are benefits to our misery. Trials mature us, they make us more Christ-like, they make us stronger, they produce endurance and patience, and they give us compassion for others. Although God doesn’t always cause hardships, He uses adversity in our lives for good. When you and I can see the benefits, we can also experience contentment in the midst of it.
3.) Paul had a rejoicing mind. Verse 4 of Philippians says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again. Rejoice!”
It hurts us sometimes when we do things for others–when you do things for your children and they don’t say thank you. They don’t recognize all those behind-the-scenes things that you’re doing just to keep their lives going. There are times as a mom when you feel, “If somebody around here would just express appreciation, that would make my job a little easier.” I think God is asking us “Have you thanked Me for the things I’ve been doing behind the scenes for you?” I find so many times that God has done dozens and scores and maybe hundreds of things for me that I haven’t stopped to recognize, much less express appreciation for. God’s word commands us to rejoice in all things. Cultivating the attitude of gratitude will help us in developing a contented heart.
Contentment is not in what you have, but who you know. God is the only one who can truly
satisfy our soul.