The Secret to Contentment
Philippians 4:11-13 I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content . . . I have learned the secret . . . I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
If there was a pill that would allow me to eat or do whatever I wanted, and still be healthy and content, I would be interested. Never mind that the pill itself would prevent any positive change in behavior, if it was the secret to happiness and health, I might take it. Who does not want the secret route to the good life?
When Paul offered the secret to contentment in today’s passage then, my ears perked up. I knew the passage, but on first read, I did not completely understand. What was the secret to Paul’s contentment? His was a miserable life. Beatings, imprisonment, homelessness, cold and hunger were common to him. If he could endure such things and proclaim contentment, I should listen.
Paul insisted that the secret to his contentment was to continually dwell in Christ, being strengthened only by him. This was no simple trick of the mind. Paul’s contentment was not just a mental exercise where he chose not to dwell on his misery. He purposefully lived in such a way that he continually pursued God and not self or circumstances. In pursuing God, he found all of his affirmation, meaning, joy and purpose in the one source that never fails.
I cannot live in pursuit of affirmation, status, money, sex, drugs, success or pride and expect to magically find my contentment in God. I do not get to pursue me and expect God’s joy. If I want, like Paul, to be content in all circumstances, I must keep my eyes off the instability of those circumstances.
The secret to life lies in realizing that my contentment does not need to be a slave to my circumstances. The secret is to live in such a way that I continually pursue God above all else.