Posted by: Brad Beaman | June 26, 2008

The Secret of Contentment


Have you noticed that there are very few people who are content with what they have? What you probably have observed is a widespread discontentment. So what is the secret for those who really have found true contentment?

There are a lot of Secrets People are trying to promote:
• Secret of success
• Secret to riches
• Secret of romance

There is no secret that could be more important for you and probably less promoted than the secret of contentment. The Apostle Paul speaks about being content in every situation and he tells us the secret to contentment in Philippians 4:10-13.

Comparison breeds discontentment. I saw a picture of two mules eating grass. It was a humorous picture because the mules were in different pastures separated by a fence. The mules were next to each other and both mules had their head through the fence eating from each others pasture.

Paul wants others to know the secret of contentment. He didn’t spend his time comparing himself to Peter, James and John. This is one reason Paul experienced contentment. He knew a deliverance from dependence on things and circumstances with complete dependence on Jesus Christ.

Read Phil 4:10-13
I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

Paul’s letter that we know as Philippians was to a large extent, a thank you note to the Philippian church. They gave Paul a financial gift to support his ministry and they gave their gift sacrificially.

Paul wants the Philippian church to know that he rejoices in Christ for their gift, not because he needs it, but because of the blessing they will receive in giving. Why doesn’t Paul need the gift? Because he is perfectly content with the circumstances as they are, not content in himself, but in Christ.

Socrates was asked, who is the wealthiest man? He who is content with least because contentment is nature’s wealth. Paul is content with little because of who he is in Christ.

For the Christian the amount of material possessions should be immaterial for contentment. The one who needs more to be content has their focus on their own needs. They are not using their life to glorify God and expand his kingdom.

Showing concern vs 10

The gift the Philippians gave was a tangible demonstration of their concern for Paul. He started the work in Philippi and he was beaten and imprisoned because of it. Ultimately Paul considered their gift from the Lord who planted the idea there among the Christians to give Paul a gift.

Paul says I rejoice greatly in the Lord.

You renewed your concern. Literally their concern was in bloom again. The word picture here is of a barren tree putting forth new shoots to bloom again. They were sprouting new shoots for the concern of Paul’s welfare.

Not because they didn’t care before, but they lacked opportunity to express concern. Paul rejoiced. They sent a gift to him and sent along Epaphraditus to minister. The only thing they had lacked was opportunity not the willingness.

Some time had elapsed since they had given him a gift. Paul concluded is was not because of their lack of concern, only lack of opportuntiy.

The secret of contentment vs. 11-12

There was a survey among people from poor to rich and it asked how much would you need to be content? The answer was usually, just a little bit more. No matter what an individual made, he felt like if he had a little bit more he would be content.

So many people go into unnecessary debt because they want more than they can afford.
The problem for those who need a little bit more, is that they will stay discontent and always need a little bit more. Contentment becomes a matter of the heart, not a matter of your bank account.

Paul’s Peace and joy did not depend on the circumstances. It’s a good thing because circumstances were not usually very good for Paul.

In verse twelve he appeals to readers to learn his secret. I have learned the secret. Not self sufficiency but Christ sufficiency. Paul was content in every circumstance because in every circumstance he knew Christ’s power.

Paul says he knew both abundance and need. There is a worldly mindset that says when you have abundance you will be content and when you have need you are discontent. This is not the way it works. True contentment goes beyond our circumstances. Contentment is not a human achievement but a divine gift.

Don’t deceive yourself to think that more of anything brings contentment. Only more of f Christ brings contentment. This is Paul’s secret to contentment. Paul said I have learned to be content whatever the circumstance.

A man overheard someone say, “I would really be content if I just had $100.” He gave that man the $100 only to hear him say, “I should have said $200.”

Paul knew that real contentment came from a deeper understanding of God and our relationship with Him.

Paul specifically states his formula for contentment is vs.13. Do everything through Christ. He says, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Material resources don’t have enough power to enable you to do the things that will bring contentment. Only Christ provides the strength to do what God calls you to do. That will bring contentment.

The secret to contentment isn’t more things. It is more of Christ fully empowering your life. Until you learn the secret of contentment you will never be all you can be for Christ. In Christ you find your purpose that brings contentment.

Don’t let your energies be focused on more and more possessions, but on more and more of Christ in your life. Paul traces true contentment, despite the circumstances, right to the source, Christ within. This is the secret that needs to be told.

Paul could accomplish all God intended through the strength in Christ. Contentment is unrelated to circumstances. We sometimes depend on Christ most when economic matters are difficult. We say “I don’t know how we will make it”. That is the time to depend on the Lord in every situation. In my weakness Christ’s power is made known.

When you learn contentment there is a new freedom there. You will have a contentment that breaks the cycle of covetness. You will experience a freedom to live God’s purposes in your life. You will be able to give joyfully to the Lord’s work. You will know an empowerment to do all things through Christ who strengthens you.


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