The Secret to Being Content

Over the past few days, I’ve been reflecting on God’s goodness and His faithfulness. Whether my family is in times of plenty or in times of want, He is ALWAYS good and He is FAITHFUL to provide for us. I’ve also been thinking about how Christmas is less than two months away, and how easy it is to get caught up on wish lists and gift-giving. I was left with the strong conviction that I want to be content with what I have, with all that God has given me. I’ve been blessed by a loving God, a forgiving Savior, I have an incredible husband, four amazing kids, an awesome church, a roof over my head, food in my cupboards… the list goes on and on! But there are times when my contentment seems to gets distracted by my messy house, a disagreement with my husband, my kids not listening to me… I was reminded of the verse in Philippians 4, where Paul says, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.” At first I kept wondering, “So, what’s the secret Paul?!” While I don’t think I’ve learned it completely, I think God is trying to teach me that secret to being content.

“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I 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. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” – Philippians 4:11-13 (NIV84)

Philippians 4:13 was one of the first Bible verses I ever memorized. I used to think it stood on its own and didn’t have much to do with the previous two verses. But now I believe it’s the very secret Paul was talking about – we need Christ’s strength to be content! Matthew Henry said, “We need His strength to teach us to be content in every condition.”

The Greek word for content used in verse 11 is autarkēs, and it means: “sufficient for one’s self, strong enough or possessing enough to need no aid or support; independent of external circumstances; contented with one’s lot, with one’s means, though the slenderest” (www.blueletterbible.org). I want to learn to be content with my life, with all that God has given me, independent of the circumstances that surround me. I want to get to the place where Christ is enough for me, where He is sufficient for me – where I don’t need to seek aid or support from worldly things. Webster’s definition for content is: “pleased and satisfied, not needing more” (www.m-w.com). I want to be content in God! Pleased, satisfied, and not needing anything more!

“Actually, I don’t have a sense of needing anything personally. I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.” – Philippians 4:11-13 (MSG)

Whatever I have – whether it’s a lot or not much… Wherever I am – whether it’s a mountain or valley… I can make it through anything, I can be content in any situation or circumstance, in and with and through Jesus Christ. He gives me all the strength I need. He makes me who I am. And He loves me… in spite of my failures, my shortcomings, my sin.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 says:

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (NIV)

“My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.” Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become. (MSG)

We need His strength to teach us contentment – no matter what we’re facing, we can rest in His sufficient grace and perfect power. His strength comes into its own in our weakness. We don’t need anything else – just Him!

Hebrews 13:5-6 says,

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (NIV84)

Don’t be obsessed with getting more material things. Be relaxed with what you have. Since God assured us, “I’ll never let you down, never walk off and leave you,” we can boldly quote, “God is there, ready to help; I’m fearless no matter what. Who or what can get to me?” (MSG)

The Greek word for content in verse 5 is arkeō, meaning: to be possessed of unfailing strength, to be strong, to suffice, to be enough, to defend, ward off, to be satisfied, to be contented. We feel true contentment in Him when we possess His unfailing strength and when we’re confident that He is our helper! He has promised us in His Word that He will never leave us or forsake us – we don’t have to give way to fear or doubt anymore!

1 Timothy 6:6-8 says,

“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content (arkeō) with that.” (NIV84)

“A devout life does bring wealth, but it’s the rich simplicity of being yourself before God. Since we entered the world penniless and will leave it penniless, if we have bread on the table and shoes on our feet, that’s enough.” (MSG)

The rich simplicity of being yourself before God – I love that! It’s not easy, but it’s simple – be who God created you to be! And be content – satisfied – in that calling! In The Message, Matthew 5:5 says, “You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.”

Being content isn’t the norm in our society today. It goes against our nature, our flesh – the world is always telling us we need the next best thing. When we’re not content, we always want the newer and the better, and we can’t rest until we get it. But the truth is, when we’re not content with what we have, we won’t be content when we get what we want.

“He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have.” – Socrates

To be content is “to be free from care because of satisfaction with what is already one’s own. The Hebrew means simply ‘to be pleased.’ The Greek brings out the full force of the word in 1 Timothy 6:8 and Hebrews 13:5. Contentment (1 Timothy 6:6) is more inward than satisfaction; the former is a habit or permanent state of mind, the latter has to do with some particular occurrence or object” (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia). We can be free from the cares of this world because we are satisfied with the One we already have – Christ!

God reminded me of the passage in Ecclesiastes 5:18-20,

“Then I realized that it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given him – for this is his lot. Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work – this is a gift of God. He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart.” (NIV84)

“After looking at the way things are on this earth, here’s what I’ve decided is the best way to live: Take care of yourself, have a good time, and make the most of whatever job you have for as long as God gives you life. And that’s about it. That’s the human lot. Yes, we should make the most of what God gives, both the bounty and the capacity to enjoy it, accepting what’s given and delighting in the work. It’s God’s gift! God deals out joy in the present, the now. It’s useless to brood over how long we might live.” (MSG)

This is contentment – being occupied with gladness of heart! Our situations are all different; our lots in life are not the same. But we can all be content in Christ with everything that God has given us. We don’t have to fixate on the glory days, wishing they’d repeat themselves, and we don’t have to waste time worrying about the future. We can enjoy the NOW, and be grateful in THIS moment!

Psalm 131:2 says, “Like a baby content in its mother’s arms, my soul is a baby content” (The Message). When I read this verse, I immediately pictured my youngest child, Ava. I’ve always felt that Ava and I have the strongest bond out of all my kids, partly because I knew she’d be my last. Ava has also had the hardest time with separation anxiety. She loves her Momma! She is most content when she’s in my arms or sitting on my lap. I want my soul to be that content – content like a baby! I want to be content in the arms of my Heavenly Father… I want that to be my favorite place.

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Here is a picture of me and my sweet baby Ava on Mother’s Day 🙂

Lastly, my song recommendations for this week!

I pray that no matter what season of life you’re in, no matter what circumstances you’re facing, I pray that you would be content in Christ and His strength, and that He would be enough for you. Rest in His arms today! And be empowered by HIM to run the race that He has marked out for you. Thank you so much for reading! Take care!

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