Learning Contentment

I’m not saying this because I need anything, for I have learned how to be content in any circumstance.  I know the experience of being in need and of having more than enough; I have learned the secret to being content in any and every circumstance, whether full or hungry or whether having plenty or being poor.  I can endure all these things through the power of the one who gives me strength. -Philippians 4:11-13

Are you content? Contentment, for the Christian, means having all you need through the indwelling Christ. The content Christian is happy with less or more, because their happiness is not dependent on exterior things. It is an inside job.

Discontentment manifests in us through complaining, grumbling, and general unhappiness or depression in our life. Contentment is connected to faith and faith is manifested through faithfulness and empowered through God's faithfulness.

Non-believers practiced contentment in Paul's time as well as today by being self-sufficient and independent. Christians then and today are completely dependent on God and Christ-sufficient.  Christians are adequate in Christ. The Greek Stoics saw contentment as self-mastery.  Christians have self-mastery unselfishly through the Master, by dying to self and living in Christ.

We learn contentment in the school of Christ.  Paul was in that school and learned.  God put him in that school and he attended.  Are you in the school of Christ?  Are you learning contentment?

Paul said that he, a Bible writing Apostle, learned contentment. He learned it and we have to learn it too. How did Paul learn contentment, which is being sufficient in Christ, no matter what your external circumstances? He learned through suffering. If we don't redeem our suffering, we can't learn contentment.

In our culture, in the West, we avoid pain at all costs and if at all possible. Facing pain, in Christ, yields spiritual growth. "No pain, no gain." If you avoid pain, you avoid growth. Paul embraced pain and learned contentment. Are you learning contentment by finding Jesus in your personal trials?

I have been referring to the trials of scarcity.  As hard as scarcity is, you might not realize that abundance is even harder. The person in scarcity struggles, feeling like Job, in the Bible, saying, "where's God?" God says, "I'm right here, commune with me in your scarcity and let me redeem it." That's your challenge and you get the reward of seeing God turn your trials into Gold.

In abundance, one's challenge is, "will you forget God?". Another challenge is, "can you handle it?". Like growing children, God is always seeking to prepare us to handle more. Great miracles happened through Paul's ministry and he seems to not have let it, "go to his head". Are we learning this kind of contentment?