Once upon a time there were two little teardrops floating down the river of life. One teardrop asked the other, “Who are you?”
I am a teardrop from a girl who loved a man and lost him. But who are you?“
The first teardrop replied, “I am a teardrop from the girl who got him.”
Life is like that. We cry over the things we can’t have, but we might cry twice as hard if we had received them. Paul had the right idea when he said, “….I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation…” (Philippians 4:11, New International Version, NIV). (1500 Illustrations for Biblical Preaching)
The Apostle Paul reveals how he was able to be content no matter the situation. In verse 12 he testified, “I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need,” (New American Standard Bible, NASB). We admire the apostle for learning the secret of adapting to any circumstance in which he faced.
There were many times Paul’s life was in peril because of his commitment to serve Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 11:21-33). And yet, Paul was able to adapt as he recalled the Lord assuring him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness,” (2 Cor. 12:9a). These encouraging words were spoken to him after he had prayed three times that “a thorn in the flesh” be removed from him. When he accepted the fact that the Lord’s grace was sufficient for him in such suffering, he responded, “Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weakness, that the power of Christ may dwell in me,” (v. 9b).
For Paul, the content of his contentment was the power of Jesus filling his life. With firm conviction, he proclaimed, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” (Phil. 4:13). The power of Jesus brings true contentment in all things. This was the secret he revealed to his fellow brethren. It’s a secret revealed to us, as well, as we experience his power in us.
When the apostle said he learned how to be content he was saying he’d learned how to be self-sufficient or satisfied through the power of Christ. In HELPS Word Studies, the word, “content,” is from the Greek autarkes, [pronounced, OW-T;R-KACE] meaning, “self sufficient, content in the sense of being satisfied, because of living in God’s content (fullness). This inward sufficiency is as valid in ‘low times’ (suffering) as in ‘high times’ (temporal prosperity).” (biblehub.com)
Speaking of those “high times,” it’s not difficult to imagine how content we think we’d be if everything went according to our wishes. We naturally think we’d be satisfied if we were wealthy, or had plenty to eat, or were abundantly supplied with anything we needed or wanted. But it’s important to remember that we’re only content during those times if we’re living under the control of God’s Spirit through Christ.
Without being Spirit-controlled, temporal prosperity does not bring true contentment but false security and emptiness. This is illustrated at the time the rich young ruler asked Jesus a question (Luke 18:18-34). He wanted so much to inherit eternal life: “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (v. 18) But when Jesus said, “One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess, and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me” (v. 22), it says, “he became very sad; for he was extremely rich,” (v. 23). Jesus pointed out that if the rich young ruler really wanted to be eternally satisfied, then he must be willing to give up his own treasure and use it to help the poor. Then, he’d receive the heavenly treasure Jesus offered. The rich man went away sadly. This prompted Jesus to comment, “How hard it is for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God,” (vss. 24-25).
The lesson we learn is that true contentment depends upon the true treasure that’s found in Christ Jesus. For through him we receive power and grace to have contentment regardless of the lows and highs we experience in our lives. It starts not with what we have materially but what Christ has done for us literally. In his letter to the church of Ephesus, Paul wrote, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses according to the riches of his grace,” (Eph. 1:7).
Contentment through Christ was bought with the precious price of Christ’s blood when he died on the cross. When we accept him as Lord and Savior through faith, repentance, and baptism, we are forgiven of our sins and given the hope of receiving eternal life in God’s Kingdom, (Eph. 2:7-8). If we’re not saved by Christ, we’ll never truly be content for only Jesus can give us the life that makes us genuinely satisfied. “He that has the Son, has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life,” (1 John 5:12).
The content of our contentment includes how much we allow Christ to transform our lives in preparation for the Kingdom (Rom. 12:1-2). When used as a noun, “content” is pronounced kon´-tent and used as something being contained such as, “The content in the box labeled, ‘nails.’” Christ was nailed to the cross for our salvation. Because of his sacrifice, we can have the content of his blessings.
The content that brings contentment through Christ is the fruit that he produces through the Spirit when we put him first in our lives. Paul lists them as, “…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, against such there is no law,” (Galatians 5:22-23). When we develop a thirst or craving for the content offered through Christ, only then will we be genuinely satisfied.
Here’s the Gaither Vocal Band singing, “Satisfied,” http://youtu.be/-WxGphvfgfM
Good News to YOU!