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Learning contentment

Not that I was ever in need, for 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

You will find that there is a long list of book titles that deal with contentment. How strange it is that we need a book to help us experience what ought to come naturally as followers of Christ Well, if you come to think of it, we've been programmed to compete, achieve, fight our way, and worry about the so-called ladder of success. The sad thing is that we bought into the lie that contentment is something to be enjoyed between retirement and the rest home. Yet, we are urged from the Scriptures to be content. "...and be content with your wages" (Luke 3:14). "I am well content with weaknesses," and, "If we have food and covering . . . be content!" (2 Corinthians 12:10; 1 Timothy 6:8). "Let your character be free from the love of money, being content with what you have" (Hebrews 13:5). These admonitions are not easy to implement. We will find ourselves outnumbered and outvoted when we live based on God’s precepts on being content. The tendency is to conform. Even Paul found himself struggling; "I have learned to be content" (Philippians 4:11). It's a learning process and the journey will not be very enjoyable unless you come to a realization that contentment is not about having new resources or acquiring new things but by having a new attitude. Paul is content no matter what his circumstances. What is such contentment? It is an inner spirit of freedom and discipline, the ability to conquer circumstances and situations rather than be conquered by them. Such an attitude is the exact opposite of worry and anxiety. Paul spoke from experience. He had been through the extremes: excess and poverty. He knew how to weather the dangers of both. This was his secret; his reliance on Christ. “I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” This is a reliance gained through his Christian experience and growing in his faith focused on God. This is a result of being in Christ. Just like Paul, we can be content no matter what circumstances we have. The Christian life is not only difficult; it is also impossible unless we acquire the power to live it through Christ. To be sure, this truth does not come naturally to us but must be learned.


Noel De Guzman

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