To Be Content (Philippians 4:10-13)
“But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content. I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
This fresh manna is especially for many of Daddy’s kids who feel like they cannot seem to walk fast enough to stay on the treadmill which is their life! The work environment can be so competitive, and it is hard to stay in peace (or be content) when your day is bombarded with challenges from every side. You may be feeling like you cannot work hard enough to fulfill the expectations of people around you; or that you cannot do enough to keep yourself afloat at work, in your studies, socially with your peers, or even in your ministry or service unto the Lord. For many of us, it may feel like it is impossible to reach a place of complete satisfaction in the things of this life. The Holy Spirit wants to break that spirit of striving off your life today, and the shackles of the world that keep you laboring for an elusive goal that is always just a breath away from your grasp. There are many precious people who have never felt content with their lives or themselves, and today, Papa wants to fill you with a sense of His deep contentment. He is pleased and content with you, and He wants you to rejoice in that fact and walk in His joy! God wants you satisfied and content, and basking in His love.
Paul wrote in 1Timothy 6:6 that “Godliness with contentment is great gain”. His life was a roller coaster ride of ‘ups’ and ‘downs’, but he walked in the joy of the Lord, always content. We can learn from him and what he wrote to the Philippian church, as we seek to cultivate contentment.
1) Paul was thankful for the blessings. He was rejoicing that the Philippian church was ‘caring’ for him ‘again’. Perhaps there had been a time when they had not sent him any love or support, but he chose to believe the best of them (“You surely did care but you lacked opportunity”) and chose to be thankful for what they were doing for him at the present time. He knew and appreciated every good thing God had done for him, regardless of who it came through. He knew that Abba was His source, and that was enough for him. We have a Father who loves us so much and has filled our lives with His goodness and love. It grieves His heart when we focus on what we do not have rather than the abundance of His blessing on our lives. It often seems to come more naturally to us to complain or focus on the negative, but if we made a conscious effort to always thank God for everything, it could become a way of life. As parents, we all love to hear from our kids that they feel blessed and thankful by what we do for them. Daddy God is no different. He is reminding us today to maintain an attitude of gratitude, to focus on the good things that are happening in our lives, and to give Him thanks, because He is the source of every good and perfect gift (James 1:17). This is powerful as we develop the art of contentment.
2) Paul made the most of any situation. He said that whether he was at rock bottom (“abased”) or walking in abundance (abounding), in every place and in all situations, whether hungry or well fed he maintained a certain balance and a constant peace, as well as his attitude of gratitude. His behavior and attitude did not change according to his physical circumstances because his trust was in God and not in people. It is easy to blame bad behavior and attitude on other people or on our situations. Too many people blame their spouses, their co-workers, their pastors, parents etc when they are accountable before God for their own responses! Our responses to people and situations display our maturity, and this is so apparent in the life of Jesus when He walked the earth, choosing to keep His eyes on the Father and listen to the Holy Spirit, rather than to give in to the aggression of the world. This is a key to keeping a heart of contentment. Decide to trust God no matter what and to keep your eyes on Him. Circumstances and people change but Jehovah never will. He is trustworthy. He is with us till the end, hallelujah! Like Paul, we can choose to make the best of every situation and stay joyful no matter what.
3) Paul believed that he lived his life in and through Christ (I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me). Paul traveled to most of Asia and the then known world, planted new churches, pioneered ministries amongst the Greeks and other nations, and achieved great things for the Lord. He braved the stormy seas, was beaten up many times, endured hardship and imprisonment for the cause of Christ and won for the Kingdom what many would not attempt to do even today. He truly believed that he could do all things through the One who filled him – the Spirit of Jesus. You may be having much on your plate right now but choose to do it all in the strength of the Lord. It would be frustrating to face some problem, a giant pile of work or a super human project in our finite capacity. However, attacking it in the power and strength of Jesus is a different matter; we would be invincible and unbeatable! If we saw Jesus as the true source of every blessing, and the enabler in every task He gives us to do, then we know that we already have everything we could ever reach for, including the solution to every problem. Paul believed what he wrote in Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.” It is easy to stay content despite any challenges you face, when you know that Jesus lives in you by the power of His Spirit, and that everything you face is by His power and strength. It is all His problem anyway! Christ in you is the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:27). Paul knew real contentment because his life was fully yielded to the Holy Spirit. He said to the people of Athens (Acts 17:28) "in Him we live and move and have our being". This is the bottom line - living in Christ, for Christ and through Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Today, the precious Holy Spirit is reminding us to get back to basics, and to be thankful for His presence and the Father’s blessing in our lives. He is asking us to make the most of whatever situation we are in, knowing that He is the God of the impossible, who can change anything around. He is reminding us that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. He is reminding us that we can trust Him to live and work through us as He works all things together for our good because we love Him and are called according to His purposes (Romans 8:28). All this is powerfully possible as we yield to the blessed Holy Spirit and say “Precious Spirit of God, fill me up and stir in me the sweet contentment that only you can give. I want to walk in your joy and your peace and in thankfulness all the days of my life”. Contentment is a shield from the unrest, irritations and confusion the enemy constantly tries to bring against the people of God. Contentment is the peace of Abba flowing like a river through you.
In the mighty name of Jesus, I command the shackles of the world and the spirit of striving to be broken off your heart and mind today. May the power of the Holy Spirit come upon you and fill you with His strength and peace. May you begin to feel the sweet love of Abba flowing into every deepest memory and every part of your life and may you receive the revelation of how much He loves you and that He truly is pleased with you. May the joy of Jesus fill you up as you walk in His contentment from this day forth and always. He is with you and is taking you from strength to strength and from glory to glory, in Jesus’ name, Amen!
Minoli Haththotuwa, 19 November 2012
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