LEARN TO BE CONTENT
In today's world, everyone is trying to get the newest and the best things on the market. We are not satisfied with what we have; we want something different. If we have a car, we want a differenct one. If we have a home, we want a bigger one. If we have a job, we want one that pays more. If we have a permanent health condition, we want to have it removed. If we have clothes, we want the latest style. If we are short, we want to be tall; if we are tall, we want to be short. If we are skinny, we want to gain weight; if we are fat; we want to go on a diet. We seem to never be content but are always wanting changes. We need to learn to be content.
The word "content" carries the idea of being satisfied with what we have and where we are in life. It is willing to live with the limits desires or actions that are placed upon our lives. The Greek word has the idea of being self-sufficient or needing no aid; making do with what we have or where we are in life.
Paul established the church in Philippi on his second missionary journey. It was established when Lydia, a seller of purple from Thyatira, and her household were baptized (Acts 16:12-15). A little later a jailer at Philippi was baptized along with his household (Acts 16:33). Several other people were converted in Philippi and a church was established.
There was a special relationship between Paul and this church. The Christians at Philippi sent to his financial needs more than once (Phil. 4:16). They were interested in his work to spread the gospel. We see them sending to his needs when he was at Corinth (2 Cor. 11:9) and also Thessalonica (Phil. 4:16).
On one occasion they "lacked opportunity" (Phil. 4:10). When Paul wrote a letter to them he told them that he "rejoiced in the Lord greatly" (Phil. 4:10) that now they were able to send to his needs again as they did before. He goes on to say that he "had learned to be content in whatever circumstances" (Phil. 4:11) he found himself. It did not matter to Paul whether he was poor or rich, hungry or had plenty to eat, he was content. Paul knew that it was through Christ that he received all his strength (Phil. 4:13).
One time when Paul had a "thorn in the flesh" God told him, "My grace is sufficient for you" (2 Cor. 12:9). Paul asked the Lord three times to remove the thorn. God would not. Paul goes on to say, "I am well content" (2 Cor. 2:10).
Being content is a behavior that we learn, we are not born with it. It is an attitude we develop over a period of time. We concentrate on what we have rather than on what we do not have. Being content is the result of being grateful for what we have rather than being disappointed or discouraged because we do not have something else. It is hard to be content, but Paul said he learned how to do it. If we are going to imitate Paul "as he imitated Christ" (1 Cor. 11:1), we need to learn to be content.
Paul told Timothy that "godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment" encouraging him to be content with food and clothing (1 Tim. 6:7,8). Paul is telling Timothy that it is more important to be right with God than it is to have more of the material things in life. Satan wants us to see the material as being important, but the material will perish. Christ told a man in a crowd one day, to take notice, life does not consist of how many possessions we have (Lk. 12:15).
The Hebrew writer said, "make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have" (Heb. 13:5). He then gives the reason, "for God Himself has said, 'I will never desert you, nor forsake you'" (Heb. 13: 5). Consider the birds of the air and flowers of the field. God takes care of both of them. Isn't mankind more important than the birds and flowers (Matt. 6:19-34)?
Solomon wrote, "The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor is the ear filled with hearing" (Eccl. 1:8). Solomon even pointed out that the one who does not have any dependents will work endlessly and "his eyes are not satisfied with riches" (Eccl. 1:8).
The pursuit of bigger and better things has been engrained in our generations. The inspired authors say we will never be satisfied. So what should we do? Wanting bigger and better things is not wrong, if given the proper priority.
The greater priority should be to pursue the greater things in life such as love (1 Cor. 13:13) for Christ, our fellowmen, our spouse, and our children. Love can abound even in the poorest and simplest of families.
Not in every case, but as a general rule, having a strong desire for material things ("the love of money") will cause us to wander away from the faith (1 Tim. 6:10). We cannot serve God and mammon (Matt. 6:24).
Let us place the emphasis upon the truly valuable things and then we will learn to be content.
By Carlton G. McPeak via Gospel Power, Vol. 10, No. 38, Sept. 21, 2003.
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