In Philippians 4:12, the apostle Paul warns us about a dangerous subject. It’s the opposite of contentment: discontentment. The devil loves to bind God’s people with the chains of discontentment. One of the greatest Christians who ever lived said he had to learn not to be bound by those chains. Paul said he had to learn contentment. If Paul had to learn contentment then every follower of Christ has to learn it. It’s not a personaltiy trait or special innate qualtiy that some people were born with and it doesn’t come naturally. If you could change places with God, how do you think you would teach contentment? Would you harangue and coerce and threaten? Would you teach followers of Jesus contentment by giving them everything they wanted in life whenever they wanted it? That’s not the way God does it. Paul says God releases us from the bondage of the chains of discontentment by teaching us the attitude of contentment by the ups and downs of life. Not just through the highs and mountaintop experiences of life but also through the lows and valleys.
Psalm 17:15; Ecclesiastes 4:6; Galatians 6:4; Ephesians 3:20; Philippians 4:12, 13; 1 Timothy 6:6-8, 10-11, 17; Hebrews 13:5
I know how to live on almost nothing, or with everything. I have learned the secret of contentment in every situation, whether it be a full stomach or hunger, plenty or want. Philippians 4:12
When Paul wrote the letter to the Philippians, he was a prisoner in Rome. He says in all the ups and downs of life he had learned contentment. A biblical definition would be something like this: Contentment is trusting God in any and every circumstance for what He has for you and wants to do in your life. To be truly free from the chains of discontentment we must deal with the enemy of contentment. Most people would agree that the number one enemy of contentment is something we learn how to do at a very young age: comparison. Whenever I go down the road of comparison with other people, I run the risk of comparing contentment right out of my life. Say you buy a very clean low mileage three-year-old used car. You’re very happy with that car. Then your neighbor gets a new car with all the bells and whistles you couldn’t afford. Suddenly, your car doesn’t look as good to you as it did before. Why?-Comparison. Or you decide to take a 4-day vacation on Carlyle Lake with your pop-up camper. You have a good time with your family enjoying the lake. Then you check Facebook when you get home, and you see that your friends are posting pictures from their 10-day Disney Cruise vacation. You decide not to post photos of your Carlyle Lake trip. Comparison is a strong link in the chains of discontentment. We’ve seen it happen to other people and most of us could say it’s happened to us. When we compare our lives and our situations to others, we can quickly realize that our contentment can be gone in a moment and the chains of discontentment will squeeze us tighter and tighter. The problem of comparison is you let what other people experience and what they possess determine your level of contentment.
When is discontentment an issue for you? Can you describe a time when comparison stole your contentment? What is your definition of contentment? What is the key for you to maintain a high-level of contentment? How would you advise parents of young children to teach them contentment?
Prayerfully ask God to help you pursue the “right” things in life. Pursue the things of God which will help you grow spiritually and move you closer to God and His Son Jesus Christ.
Dear Jesus, I come to you and ask for your help to learn contentment. I know the devil wants to bind me with the chains of discontentment because of how it affects my walk with you. I want a heart of gratitude and thanksgiving for all your blessings in my life both material and spiritual. I know the greatest blessing awaits me when I go home to be with you. I love you and prasie this day. In your wonderful and mighty name I pray, Amen.