Webster defines contentment as “the state of being happy and satisfied.” But is that even possible in today’s world? It’s not only possible, it’s a spiritual necessity.
In Philippians 4, Paul says that he is content. As you and I well know, Paul didn’t live a life of ease and luxury. In 2 Corinthians 11, he describes times when he was beaten, in perils, sleepless, hungry and thirsty, and even naked! How could this man actually say that he was content?!
Paul teaches us that contentment is learned behavior. He says, “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content” (Phil. 4:11). So contentment is a choice that we make. And we can choose contentment regardless of life’s circumstances.
How can we learn contentment?
Contentment comes from at least five vital mindsets.
1. Contentment comes from a REALIZATION of each day’s blessings.
Remember how Jesus taught us to thank God for our “daily bread” (Mat. 6:11)? We have something for which to be thankful every day.
2. Contentment comes from a RECOGNITION of the Giver of all good gifts.
James 1:17 states that everything comes from God. Paul asked, “What do you have that you did not receive?” (1 Cor. 4:7).
3. Contentment comes from a RELATIONSHIP with Christ.
In Philippians 4, Paul points to the One Who made his contentment possible. He says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13). His ability to endure hardships came from his trust in Jesus.
4. Contentment comes from a REMINDER of our focus.
If your treasures are here, then your reward is here and, thus, your heart is set here. But if you treasures are in heaven, then your heart’s focus is there and, consequently, that’s where your reward is (Mat. 6:19-21). We need that regular reminder of where our focus should be. Paul said, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Rom. 8:18).
5. Contentment comes from a REPRESSION of self-centeredness.
You’ll never be content if your self absorbed. That’s why Paul wrote to Timothy that “godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Tim. 6:6), and “having food and clothing, with these we shall be content” (1 Tim. 6:8). He’s talking about a frame of mind that views one’s lot as enough. God has supplied everything that I need, therefore I can be content.
Let’s wrap it up: Contentment does not mean that we can’t strive for better. There’s contentment and then there’s complacency. We shouldn’t confuse the two. It is contentment that can look at life – even though things aren’t going the way that you wish they would – and still see the good that God gives in it. A contented person is the one who can truly say, “It is well, it is well with my soul.”
This is a partial transcript from my weekday podcast, The New You, where we focus on maintaining and accentuating the new that Christ created in each of us as Christians. A new episode is available each Monday through Friday on The Light Network. Click here to see all of the episodes.