Think about the most content people you know in your life. What kind of characteristics do they display? If I were asked to describe content people I would most likely say that they are peaceful, steady, joyous, encouraging, secure, friendly, and non-threatening. In contrast, a discontented person displays characteristics in thought and behavior that are opposite what was listed above. Now, if we are at times discontent, these qualities do not define who we are, but we can find ourselves adopting some of these behaviors if we are not careful. The real question is, what keeps you and I from being content people? The answer: ourselves!
Maintaining a content spirit is challenging because it requires a choice to focus on eternity or present day circumstances. I have to make the choice to rest in what the Lord has given me, good or bad. For me, my contentment often times is controlled by my circumstances. For example, if the sun is shining it is all of the sudden “a good day”; if I score well on an exam, I am overflowing with thanksgiving. As I assessed my view of contentment for this post, I realized it is not very biblical and it is convictingly shallow and flimsy. So how do I change that?
Observe the apostle Paul’s explanation of contentment: “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.” (Philippians 4:12). If we are not careful we can read over this verse the same way we sometimes do with Philippians 4:13 (“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”). However, there is some practical meat that we can consume from Paul’s words.
What Paul tells us is that he doesn’t let his circumstances affect his eternal perspective. His eyes are fixed upon his future home (heaven) and the time that he will spend in the Lord’s presence (forever!). If we are going to be content people, we first have to be truly convinced of our eternal destination. Knowing and remembering that this side of heaven is not our home leads to an expectant spirit for our time spent in eternity. So, once our circumstances are submitted to the Lord and we are using the right lenses to view the present day we are in, then contentment becomes attainable.
One final thought is this: content people are some of the most invigorating people to be around. Being confident and satisfied with the current life and circumstances the Lord has given you can really fill other people up. I’m not saying it is easy, but if Paul could do it, so can we! Let’s commit to being people that other people want to be around! Jesus really is enough and that is very easy to forget. Thank God for Scriptures like Philippians 4:12 that remind us that no circumstance can shake internal resolve. God bless and have a great Tuesday!
Photograph taken by Ian Schneider