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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