Not that I am referring to being in need; for I have learned to be content with whatever I have. (Phil. 4:11)
I used to scorn being content. Being content seemed unheroic, boring, and lazy. Rather than wanting contentment, I strove to be more, do more, and have more. I thought that contentment was for old people and losers.
Maybe I was right. Maybe people of some age and experience are going to be more drawn towards contentment. Maybe those who have lost some important people, a valued position, or some treasured possessions are more likely to see contentment being a gift.
Being past 60, I no longer scorn contentment. I now pray for more contentment with my life, work, relationships, past, present, and future.
Paul’s contentment comes from knowing Jesus. By knowing Jesus, Paul knows he has enough of the things that really matter—things like love, grace, and mercy. If he has Jesus, it doesn’t matter whether he has a lot or a little—he’s still full, still satisfied.
Although I’ve moved from scorning contentment to desiring it, I’m still not where Paul was. The people I know who have this depth of contentment are those who’ve suffered great losses.
I’m thinking of a friend who lost her possessions during a recent flood in Houston. I envy (sort of) her contentment. I qualify my envy because I don’t want to experience what she went through to be so contented.
I’m thinking of the man who had everything taken away when his business went bust. Again, I envy (sort of) his inner peace. He’s someone who doesn’t think about having everything he wants because he wants everything he has.
I’m thinking about a woman who lost her whole world when her husband left her. At the other end of all that pain, she’s more content than she was before. Before she lost so much, she wasn’t a person of faith. She didn’t have faith until she really needed it.
Jesus encourages us to rely upon Him so that our lives will not be filled with striving, clawing, grasping, scheming, climbing, and pushing. The more we rely upon Jesus, the more content we will become.
- Have you ever been contented? If not, how come? If so, how did you get to that place?
- What are the worries, needs, and anxieties that prevent you from being content? Is there anything that is keeping you from giving all that troubles you to Jesus so that you could have more peace?
- Paul was content because he knew that he had Jesus. Do you have Jesus? Or, more to the point, does Jesus have you? What would it take for Jesus to have more of you so that you could have more contentment?