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by Bill Denton
Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:11-13 NASB)
I must admit that Im not satisfied with a lot of things. Neither do I think Im particularly competent in an ever growing number of areas of life. In fact, if I get to thinking about it very much, I could end up being one of the most dissatisfied people I know. Something is wrong!
Pauls words to the Philippians are among the most challenging Ive ever read, and Ive read them many times. He had learned one of lifes most important lessons: how to be content whether he was rich or poor, whether he was filled or hungry, or whether he had abundant blessings or suffered need. Now, I want to tell you that Im nowhere near the apostle Paul with regard to such contentment.
Its interesting to hear people talk about how to achieve contentment. There are those who evidently believe that contentment comes by gathering wealth and possessions. These people are always looking to upgrade. Whatever they have, or how well it may suit their needs, or perform its purpose, its not enough. They may be making a million dollars, but want a raise because theyre convinced that with a higher income, comes contentment. Amazingly, you see an interesting shift in this same mindset in people who suddenly discard the corporate life and become beach bums on a south sea island somewhere. They think theyve given up the idea that possessions and wealth bring contentment, but when you really look at the way they live, they just traded one set of possessions for another a stock portfolio for a coconut palm.
History has also presented us with varying groups of ascetics, whose ideas seemed to say that contentment only came with absolute abandonment of wealth and possessions. Contentment, according to these folks, only comes to those who give up everything, live in total poverty, own nothing, have nothing, want nothing and there have been plenty of people who have pursued this kind of life.
Pauls secret? Jesus!
Paul said it this way: I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Now, perhaps this statement only makes sense if you back up in the book of Philippians and read chapter three. There Paul makes it clear that he found Jesus to be the most valuable thing in the world. He was so valuable, Paul was willing to trade everything in life that previously held value to him, for Jesus.
Why did Paul come to this conclusion? Because he knew that the cleansing of his soul, a relationship with God, eternal life, resurrection, and everything that comes with it is worth more than anything of earthly value. Give him a lot of money, or take it all away. As long as he had Jesus, he was content. Everything that really mattered was settled in Jesus. I want to be that content.
Author: Bill Denton
Publication Date: April 9, 2002