My Musings – To be content is to accept or to be satisfied with ones circumstances. Perhaps the best image of contentment is that of an infant or small child in the arms of their mother. No matter what else may be going on around them, they feel safe and secure – content.
Paul is writing from prison. Death is imminent by execution. One would think he had little to rejoice about, much less greatly. To reassure the Philippians, who were concerned about him, Paul related to them that he (in jail and facing execution) had no needs. He had, in fact, learned to be content whether in need or in plenty – whatever the circumstances.
Of course, whether we are in want or when we have plenty – each circumstance presents its own challenges to being content. When we have, we have a tendency to want what we do not have, leaving us discontented. When we have not, it seems only natural to be discontented. Yet often those in need are more likely to be contented than those who want.
So what is this big “secret” that Paul had learned? Do not focus on the circumstances (“in need” or “have plenty“), focus on the relationship (“through Him who gives me strength“).
My Advice – One might be tempted to think that Paul, being a giant in the faith, couldn’t possibly understand our circumstances. Think again. Better yet, read the following written by Paul. “I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?” (2 Corinthians 11:23–29, NIV 1984).
So, if he can, we can. But not in our own strength, but in Him who give us the strength to be so.
Today’s musing was inspired by Pastor Kevin Rutledge’s sermon on November 24, 2019. Check it out at https://www.fbcsycamore.com/sermons. If you live in or are visiting the area, come and join us Sundays at 10:30 a.m. We’d love to be partners in the Gospel with you.