I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been 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 everything through him who gives me strength. (Phil 4:10-13)
How do you define what is enough for you? How much is enough money to make, to save and to spend? How do you define for yourself what is enough clothing, enough food, enough electronic gadgets, enough television channels and enough time to watch them, enough sporting events, enough shoes and enough popularity? How much is enough for you? That is an intensely personal question. No one can answer it for us, but we answer it daily by the choices we make.
The enemy is at work in our world determined to help us each answer that question in exactly the same way. Regardless of our income, our lifestyle, our investment portfolio or class, our enemy wants us to respond in unison with one voice and answer, “just a little more.”
You can be a discontent millionaire and a discontent pauper. Discontentment knows no economic boundaries. The common denominator is a gnawing desire to have what is just out of reach or what someone else has, believing that it will finally make us truly happy.
Discontentment dries our spirit. It does so because, at its core, it is an indictment of God’s gracious care and provision in our lives. It accuses God of holding back and holding out. It assumes that we deserve more, but somehow we are not receiving all we really need.
The Apostle Paul turns this idea on its head when he says that he has learned the secret of being content in any and every circumstance. Wealth and the accumulation of stuff are of no consequence. Contentment transcends what’s in our bank accounts and storage units. For Paul, and for all of us who are in Christ, the secret is not a mind manipulation process or a new form of the power of positive thinking. It is the truth of God’s presence, provision and providence. It is a daily trust that God is always near us, will always ‘supply all of our needs, according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus’, and is sovereign over every circumstance in our lives.
Presence, provision and providence. Because of his certainty in them, Paul could write from the bowels of a dark prison with a spirit of contentment. In the midst of the most demanding of situations Paul knows this contentment, because, for him, Christ is enough.
Is Christ your full provision today? Can you rest in him, knowing that regardless of your situation, whether in plenty or in want, you are content in him? If you can know and claim that contentment for yourself, you will also know the refreshing release from the anxious striving for more and more. And your spirit will be refreshed.
Gracious Lord, my provider and constant companion, help me today to be released from the bondage of always wanting more. Forgive me of my lack of trust in you, and for seeking happiness in the accumulation of things or experiences, instead of seeking my only contentment in you. I give myself back to you today and ask that your presence, provision and providence will be the sole source of my daily contentment. I know you want the every best for me, and I trust you with my life. Refresh my spirit and give me a heart that is at rest and content in you alone. I pray this in your almighty and gracious name, Amen.