Paul’s Secret of Contentment

Day 13 - April 6 / Elder Mark Harbeson

Philippians 4:11

“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.”

That’s awesome, Paul.  Congratulations.  That plus 5 bucks will barely get me an overpriced coffee at Starbucks.  It’s easy for him to say, right?  Paul was the greatest Christian who ever lived.  He had, like, super-secret Jesus Powers or something.

Actually, no.  Paul was a regular human being, with access to the same not-so-super-secret Christian tools (the Holy Spirit, prayer, the Bible) as you and me.  But where our hearts are restless, unhappy, always looking for the next high, Paul had peace.  How?

Through the soaring highs and devastating lows of his life, God taught Paul to keep his eyes on the prize: the salvation of Jesus Christ.  Nothing else matters.  Look at what he says next in verse 12: “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.”

It’s interesting that he had to “learn” how to abound, and “learn” the secret of facing plenty or abundance, isn’t it?  Most of us would love to have that problem.  But he is onto something when he speaks of being content in all of these situations.  In Philippians 3, he speaks of counting all as “rubbish” and “loss” in order that he might gain Christ.  When we have nothing, we despair.  When we have plenty, we forget God.  Both of these states speak to idols in our heart—we seek after things other than Jesus.  Paul is seeking after Christ alone.  All other things fade away, and he is content in simple obedience to God, who gives and takes away.

Our discontent is rooted in our selfish desires, our idols, and our sinful desire to control every circumstance.  Lay these things at the foot of the cross.  Seek the kingdom of God.  Seek Christ alone.  And the Lord will be faithful to satisfy that longing, and teach you the same secret He taught Paul.  During this coming week, we will try and learn that same secret of contentment in all circumstances.
Prayer Points:
  • Read Philippians 3.  Ask God to strip away your idols.
  • Pray for joy and peace in times of plenty and times of need.
  • Thank God for sustaining us through His Holy Spirit.
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Karen Ellis - November 21st, 2021 at 7:41am

Thank you so much for this timely message! I am struggling struggling with this concept and being content. You are so right, so correct, selfishness that once more and more. God woke me up this morning remembering that Paul wrote about contentment and no matter what ever whatsoever circumstances he found himself. So I googled it and your message came up. I will save this copy it out put it up in the kitchen or the bathroom look at it and try and live this I have to learn how to be content. I am struggling with healing that is taking a long time, I’m struggling with financial problems and I am struggling wanting to go south for the winter. All of these are weighing on my mind. I have to let them all go to focus on Christ and his resurrection and that I belong to him and that I am here to serve him not go walk on the beach and the ocean right now!

Trish - March 19th, 2024 at 8:25am

Reading your comment years later and it feels as if I wrote it myself. God has been reminding me over the past couple of days to let go and let Him. I am learning how to. Learning how to give it all to Him and for Him if necessary. I am learning how in all things to be content.

Miracle mwape - April 21st, 2022 at 3:55pm

I have learnt to be content with what I have and not just that firstly seeking the Kingdom of God first .

Donald Conway - December 2nd, 2022 at 12:19am

I’ve been struggling my whole life (im 22) with being content or needing a quote on quote (fix) and I know it’s the flesh, but Paul and I are just alike we crave worldly things. You reading this and I are just alike we’re not content. So I pray that me and you will conquer our fleshly desires and lean on god for our not being content and that we will trust in god more that he can satisfy all our worldly needs!

Betty Joyce - December 7th, 2022 at 11:02am

Wow this was a perfect message for me today.

I can’t believe when I read the comment from Karen Ellis, two years ago because I can relate on so many points. I’ve also been struggling for so long, waiting to be the butterfly coming out of the cocoon.

And I’m just realizing God‘s trying to calm me down and that he needs me calm levelheaded and settled to be able to use me. But that was after this morning waking up to thinking about what Paul had said about contentment and that he learned the secret.., and then like Karen also I googled that scripture and found this by you! You put it so well and easy To grasp, I also will be saving this and referring back to it. Feel like I’m in a divine moment and am appreciating it so much. We have to stay close to him, he will lead us, is leading us even though we don’t see it now. And I can’t care and the part about letting go, so it keeps coming back in my Head is… If you wanna Go, you have to let go, never look back nova log back

Betty Joyce - December 7th, 2022 at 11:31am

Oops, that message was sent before I was done, and before I corrected it. The last part was the point being in order to go forward with Jesus we’ve got to let go of everything else. I remember something Chuck Swindoll says a lot…to hold everything lightly, except Jesus.. Your message put it perfectly though, about seeking first the kingdom, following after Christ in simple obedience and all other things fade away. Thank you so much!

God knows how to deliver us and sometimes he does it through healing us from past trauma and emotions. I just have to calm down And let him do what he does best.

Andrew - December 14th, 2022 at 1:45pm

I think Pual learned what many people don't and that is to be thankful to Godin all things.