Learning Contentment

 

The Wednesday feature of the Worldly Saints blog is a Scriptural meditation whereby I take a verse or passage I have been pondering lately and seek to edify my readers with it’s promises, encouragements, warnings, rebukes, etc.

 

Philippians 4:11-12 reads, “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.”

So how can one get to be content? How can one arrive at the place of faithfully living as they are called? How can we be content in all circumstances or social statuses or occupations or marriages or financial situations?

One thing you can do is read books that unpack the discipline of contentment (The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs or The Art of Divine Contentment by Thomas Watson or Trusting God by Jerry Bridges). Also, let me give you some practical guidance from the Scripture.

#1 – Train yourself to be thankful in all things and at all times. The Bible tells us that in everything we should give thanks (I Thess 5:18). Where we probably need to work here is not in thanking God for the successful surgery or the bills being paid this month. Where the “all things” becomes real work is thanking God for the challenging of facing trying circumstances. It’s when we face the darkness that His light becomes all the more glorious. If you want to be a content person, practice thanking Him – frequently – when your flesh tells you there is nothing to be thankful for.

#2 – Know God’s providence. The providence of God means He unfolds and guides all things into place to serve His purpose (Rom 8:28). With God, there is no surprises, because it all fits under His plan. A content Christian understands he is not where he is by accident. He is exactly where God knew he would be.

#3 – Learn to be satisfied with very little. After Paul told Timothy that godliness partnered with contentment is great gain, he reminds him that we bring nothing into the world and will take nothing from it (I Tim 6:6). In other words, you don’t need much. You could truly survive on a deserted island with nothing but God. Some of the dearest people I have met in my lifetime are people who have a fraction of goods in this world. Their contentment does not rise and fall with the accumulation of toys or trinkets, because their contentment is not in the things that will pass away in this world. A content Christian knows his riches go far beyond what this world can produce; they are in heaven.

#4 – Pre-occupy yourself with others. Content Christians are not selfish Christians. A content Christian is focused on the lives of others. He didn’t live for selfish ambition or vain conceit but for the bettering of others (Phil 2:3-4). Content Christians love to put themselves “last in line.”

To whet your appetite for further reading and to conclude our time, I share with you a statement from the Puritan Jeremiah Burroughs. Here is what he says that we should tell ourselves when we are grumbling or complaining or just flat-out discontent. Say this:

“I find a sufficiency of satisfaction in my own heart, through the grace of Christ that is in me. Though I have not outward comforts and worldly conveniences to supply my necessities, yet I have a sufficient portion between Christ and my soul abundantly to satisfy my in every condition.”[1]

[1] The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, pg. 18

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