The apostle Paul experienced many highs and lows in his life.
But, as a follower of Christ, he recognised that he had no promise of tomorrow – and that he was where he was due to the grace of God.
We are no different.
“Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you. But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.
“Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”- Philippians 4:9-13 (KJV).
Being content is a state of mind. We can choose how to react to any situation. It may be that we need to spend more time on our knees praying to God to give us wisdom to help us through our trials.
Or, perhaps acknowledging God more when times are good.
“But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation. I will sing unto the Lord, because he hath dealt bountifully with me.” – Psalm 13:5-6. (KJV).
Even when things go terribly wrong, we must retain the long view. Life is short, eternity is forever. I like what that old time preacher, Vance Havner, said.
“If you are a Christian you are not a citizen of this world trying to get to heaven: you are a citizen of heaven making your way through this world.”
We are promised difficulties.
“Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.” – 1 Peter 1:6-9 (KJV).
Our emotions will often control our actions. We have to strive for good works and a sound reputation in all that we do.
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” – Ephesians 2:10 (KJV).
If we recognise God blesses us daily with life, we must remember that God gives and also takes away.
How we react to life’s difficulties can be a tremendous testimony and witness. Determining what is important is in itself a step towards obtaining the biblical definition of ‘content’.
Being content is not natural.
“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.” – Titus 2:11-12 (KJV).
Denying worldly desires is totally against our natural nature. Our souls are rarely satisfied. The apostle Paul himself alluded to this when he talked about “warring daily” with ourselves.
The soul is rarely satisfied. We always want more. It is our selfish nature. The writer of Hebrews touches on this.
“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” – Hebrews 13:5 (KJV).
If we can get a handle on being content regardless of our circumstances, the Bible says we have made considerable progress in our Christian walk.
“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.” – 1 Timothy 6:6-8 (KJV).
A song of my youth comes to mind – The Rolling Stones singing “…I can’t get no satisfaction…”
That’s not how we are supposed to be as Christians.
“The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the LORD that seek him: your heart shall live for ever.” – Psalm 22:26 (KJV).
If we live righteously, God promises us contentment.
“And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.” – Isaiah 32:17 (KJV).
It’s not easy, I know, and I have to work at it each day – as I am sure you do. But, here is our ongoing challenge – “…in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”
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About the author
Barrie Hanson lives in Bluff, Southland. He has been a Christian for over 40 years and in that time he has been a preacher, Pastor and a church helper in both Auckland and Hamilton.
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