When Paul in the bible wrote, “godliness with contentment is great gain” (Timothy 6:6), he wasn’t just speaking about a feeling or way of life that was beyond our reach. No, Paul was sharing that he had learnt the secret of being content in every circumstance of his life and that we can all share in this happy state.
He’d discovered firstly that contentment is being sufficient, lacking nothing, being self-contained, and needing no outside assistance. He found this sufficiency in knowing Jesus and the provision and strength found in His promises.
For those of us willing to learn there are some keys that Paul discovered that can also help us live a contented life.
1.Firstly it is to give thanks in all things. Thankfulness and expressing gratitude are characteristics we most often see in those people who live a joyful contented life. They just seem to have a peace about them and a grateful heart regardless of their circumstances.
Case in point would be my experience earlier this week when I was feeling especially grumpy one morning. I was telling God that I wasn’t impressed with some things that I thought he should be working a little more quickly on, when my Mum called and started talking about how wonderful it was to see all of our children growing and loving Jesus. As she kept talking I quickly checked my attitude and acknowledged how blessed we were. I started to give thanks for the good things in my life and as a result the issues that I had been feeling angry about soon fell away from my heart and mind, to be replaced by a sense of contentment and thanks that God really does love me and that He is in control.
If we want to learn to live a contented life we must recognise that we have a void in our life that only Jesus is able to fill. He is the one who makes us who we are; and when we understand who we are in Him and how much we mean to Him we will gain peace and contentment.
“For God shows his love or us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
“Behold I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.” (Isaiah 49:16)
“For I, the Lord your God hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.” (Isaiah 41:13)
Secondly we keep a thankful heart for what we do have rather than what we don’t. That doesn’t mean we thank God for sickness, loss, relationship breakdowns, financial lack and struggles because He doesn’t orchestrate those things in our lives. What we do give thanks for is that He is faithful to His word, that nothing can separate us from His love, and that He has a plan and a way through any of the challenges we may face in life. That is how and why we can give thanks in every circumstance, not for the struggle, but because He is with us and will enable us to walk through every difficulty victoriously.
“In everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
Paul wrote that he had learnt how to be content; which means that we too can learn how to live a life free from the discontentment that many people wrestle with all their lives.
Let’s begin by acknowledging that any emptiness in our life Jesus can and will fill, and to choose to give thanks in all things, because God is faithful to His promises and will carry us through every challenge. Then we too can write as Paul did:
“Actually I don’t have a sense of needing anything personally. I’ve learnt by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.” (Philippians 4:11-13 The Message)
Prayer: Lord thank you that you promise I will be alright in every circumstance of my life because you are the one who makes me who I am, and in you I can do all things. Help me to learn more and more each day that I have all I need, am fully supplied, and lacking nothing in you, for you are all I need. In Jesus name Amen.