“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.”
Philippians 4:11-12, NIV
Paul said a mouthful when he talked about being content. No matter what his financial situation was – plenty or needy – he had learned to be content. The fact that he says, “I have learned,” indicates that contentment was not something that just happened all of a sudden. It was something he chose to learn.
We are marketed to believe that contentment is something we buy; something we are finally able to afford or do. But our own personal history has taught us that this is untrue. Once we finally acquire the item that is supposed to make us satisfied, then contentment slips through our fingers. We quickly find that the much-anticipated contentment soon vanishes. We are back on our quest.
If contentment is something to be learned, rather than bought, it must be the result of an ongoing process. It is something I must take steps to learn. It is also a life skill parents must teach. If we do not teach our children, they will never be happy with the things they buy or the person they marry. They will spend a lifetime looking to a more expensive purchase or person to bring that illusive contentment.
The first step toward learning contentment is to accept the fact that things will never make me happy. The next step is to learn and teach the joy of giving rather than the momentary excitement of getting. Finally, we need to realize that contentment can only come through Christ. It sounds so religious, but it is true. Contentment can only come by having one thing rather than many…a relationship with Christ.
QUESTION: Everyone has to deal with a contentment deceiver. What are you using to find contentment (things, power, social standing, etc.)? What can you do to learn to be content?