Life can be very hectic. We have more ways to connect with others and yet loneliness and depression continue to plague us. We have access to more career opportunities than ever before, yet restlessness seems to abound. We have more comfort and security than ever before, yet fear and anxiety continue to climb. What will it take for us to find peace and contentment? Paul has the answer.
The Apostle Paul and the Seven Practices that Bring True Contentment
I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” — Phil. 4:10-13
Here are seven things we learn about finding contentment in all circumstances from the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippian Church.
1. Be Grateful
I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me” (Phil. 4:10).
Paul was under house arrest in Rome awaiting a potential death sentence and yet he can say – I rejoice!
Focus on all that you have – not on what you don’t have.
2. Don’t Play the Comparison Game
It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill” (Phil. 1:15).
There were some who were preaching a negative message against Paul. However, Paul was unconcerned. He said, “But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached” (Phil. 1:18).
Paul didn’t play the comparison game. He didn’t care who got the credit or who came in first or who was on top. As long as Christ was being exalted, Paul could rejoice!
Focus on what God is doing with you – not what he’s doing with others.
3. Place God First
I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:20-21).
Paul was being attacked by those within the church even as his life was being threatened by those outside the church. However, Paul could forge ahead because he always placed Jesus at the center of his life and God on the throne.
Keep the main thing the main thing and the main thing is always God.
I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles” (Phil. 4:13-14).
Paul commends the Philippian church for its heart for service. He understood that the secret to contentment was sharing all things, even your pain. He commended them because they were serving him even while they were going through the same kinds of troubles he was experiencing (Phil. 1:30).
When you serve others you don’t have time to wallow in your own troubles.
5. Keep an Eternal Perspective
I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far …” (Phil. 1:23b).
Paul was torn. Death did not scare him. He knew the churches of Macedonia continued to need his leadership. However, he preferred to be with Jesus. He could keep a great attitude because he always kept the eternal view in mind.
Whatever you are going through – always remember – this too shall pass.
6. Remember God’s Promises
I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (Phil. 4:13).
God promised to never leave us or forsake us (Mt. 28:20). Paul rested on God’s promise.
Believe in God’s promises more than the mountain in front of you.
I thank my God every time I remember you. 4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy …” (Phil. 1:3).
Paul understood the power of prayer. He prayed, knowing that “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6).
Spend more time on your prayers than you do on your complaints.
Follow Paul’s map to contentment and you will be able to say with him — “I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (Phil. 4:13).