How do you define contentment?
Don’t wish for something you don’t have, but delight in what you do have. Be content with your vehicle, house, wardrobe, gadgets, etc. Don’t long for the life of someone else, but be happy with where you are in life.
I think most of us hear definitions like that and think, “That sounds about right.”
And while those are good and Biblical (Exodus 20:17), I think we miss what the Bible really means when it says to be content.
In his letter to the church in Philippi, Paul writes, “I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength” (Philippians 12:12-13).
When Paul writes this letter, he isn’t sitting in a 2 bedroom, 1 bath apartment that has loud neighbors. He’s not typing on an iPhone 4. He’s not even eating beans and rice because the budget is tight. He’s writing while shackled in a prison cell. In prison, on death row, Paul says, “Even here in the face of my enemies, I can be content.”
Can you say the same thing? If everything were to be stripped away, your money, possessions, family, and friends, could you be content and worship Christ with your words and life?
In the Old Testament, God allows Satan to take everything from a man named Job and even allows him to inflict Job’s body with disease. Job cries out to God, questioning why God would do this to him. God answers, reminding Job who He is and what He has done. Job replies, “I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance” (Job 42:6). After he repents, God blesses Job even more. Job 42:16-17 says, “Job lived 140 years after that, living to see four generations of his children and grandchildren. Then he died, an old man who had lived a long, full life.”
I don’t think Job lived a “full life” because of the blessing God gave him, but rather because he knew the Creator and trusted in His will.
Jesus said, “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life” (John 10:10). This isn’t a promise for blessings and stuff; being reconciled to God and knowing Christ gives life and life to the full.
Nothing can separate us from the love of God, so we can be content no matter our circumstance. We can take on anything with Christ who lives in us (Galatians 2:20).
Paul and Job had learned the secret to contentment. Have you?