Have you noticed how there’s a a rising “trend” these days, of a need to accumulate “stuff”? It starts in children as young as four or five, who see their friends with the latest Play Station or Xbox and feel they have to have one. My grandson is only nine and is already asking my daughter for a mobile phone; which she very wisely will not buy him.
This dissatisfaction strikes adults too; no matter how much people have materially, deep down there’s the belief that there’s more to be had; that the grass must surely be greener on that elusive other side.
I love the way The Message translates 1Timothy 6:6
“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.”
This discontent and striving for “stuff” to fill the emptiness inside can strike Christians too. And it’s not a modern trend, it’s as old as mankind; it just shifts and changes a little with the times. During the time of Paul, there was a popular philosophy called stoicism. A stoic was someone who strives to find contentment in being self sufficient. Paul turned this philosophy on it’s head, teaching that true contentment comes only from finding sufficiency in Christ.
Contentment is a learned attitude:
Paul said, “I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. Philippians 4:11–13
“I have learned” implies that Paul hadn’t always been content; but that it was developed in him over time.
Paul, before surrendering his life to Jesus, had been a powerful young man with a bright, successful career mapped out before him. By worldly standards, that is. Can you imagine what his peers must have thought of him; the gossip back in the barracks?
“Saul’s lost the plot, he’s joined those crazy Christians; thrown away everything!”
The Secret to Contentment:
What was this secret that Paul learned? He gives us the answer at the end of the above passage, in what has become one of the most misquoted scriptures, or perhaps I should say, quoted out of context scriptures. He says, after telling us how he has learned to be content in all circumstances that he is able to do this because he “can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13
Reading this verse in context, Paul is saying that it is the Lord who enables and strengthens him to be content, whether he has much or little.
Every one of us could be tempted to run after money or material things to fill a need, but no matter how much we accumulate, the truth is that true contentment can only be found in the Lord:
“For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.” Psalm 107:9
”The eyes of all look to you in hope; you give them their food as they need it. When you open your hand, you satisfy the hunger and thirst of every living thing”. Psalm 145:16
Thank you Lord for your unfailing goodness, mercy and kindness in my life. Thank you that you are my provider, you know exactly what my heart and soul needs in order to be fully satisfied- and you know all my material needs too. You are my Shepherd, therefore I lack nothing; I don’t have to be self sufficient; everything I need is found in you. Teach me Lord, to walk in your ways, and to keep in step with you.