Recently I took the time to study a bit about being content, and whether or not being content in our daily lives is the same as being content in our faith. I was actually in a small group setting and one of my sweet friends began a discussion about social media. Think about your daily life. When you're on social media, does it make you wish and wonder what if? Do you find yourself competing and coveting? Don't feel bad. We all do! But doesn't this affect our contentedness when everything is fine and dandy until you see one of your girlfriends post a picture of her new, uber expensive purse. You know, the one you've been hounding your husband to buy you? Don't these feelings of comparison quickly lead to a multitude of others that are none flattering and representing that of a Christ-filled woman? When you think about the world of Instagram and beautiful, perfect representations of nearly everything, from our homes, children, husbands and even the way we should look, does all of this affect our contentedness? Absolutely!
Being content in the flesh is different than being content in Christ. Personally, I think it is safe to say that we have many opportunities to elevate ourselves to a higher status. We can buy bigger homes, more expensive, luxury-style cars, and climb the professional ladder until we achieve a higher salary. Is there anything wrong with this? No, as long as you have faith in place. What do I mean? It is great to strive for these things but they should not be your primary focus. You should focus on what God's will is for you and pray that in your desires that God listens, but answers you only if they are in His will for you. If we don't do this, sometimes we find ourselves fighting and clawing into new positions and circumstances that were not meant for us in the season we are in, and while God is covering us during these times, we've gotten ourselves into situations we may struggle getting out of as He is working on us to learn a lesson from our mistakes.
In regard to being content in our faith, unlike knowing when to let God take control and learning how to be still in our circumstances as we wait on his direction, we never need to be content in our faith. We need to always want to grow and learn more about Him. We can never be mature enough in the spiritual sense and should always keep climbing the ladder of knowledge.
I took a look at Paul in Philippians during this study because not only did he go through a bunch of crazy things, but he did them with full contentedness in the fact that God had his back. Paul also had full intention to live by the fact that everything is under God's sovereignty. Take a look at Philippians 4:10-19. To give you a little background, during this time Paul was imprisoned in Rome and he was writing a letter to his believers in Philippi. The Philippian church had sent him a gift and his dilemma was that he wanted to express his thanks for the gift but at the same time NOT give off the impression to the church that the Lord was NOT sufficient for his every need during this time of imprisonment. Paul discovered the true source of joy in Christ Himself, and Christ enabled Paul to experience joy even if suffering.
Let's break things up a bit.
What does contentment mean? To Greek Stoics, the word meant having the ability to be self-sufficient and face any situation by your own resources.
What does Paul mean when he speaks about contentment? What does contentment mean for a Christian? For Paul, and in the Christian sense of the word, contentment doesn't come from self-sufficiency, but instead from being dependent on Christ and Christ's resources.
Let us take a look at the verses in question:
I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were 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 all this through him who gives me strength.
Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles.
Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid more than once when I was in need. Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account. I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
verse 11 - Paul's rejoicing was not because of his need
verse 11 - Paul says that he "learned" to be content whatever his circumstances.
verse 13 - Paul affirms that his sufficiency is in Christ
verse 17 - Paul rejoiced in his circumstance because the giving of the Philippians resulted in heavenly reward for them.
verse 18 - Paul says that he received just want he needed.
How can we be content like Paul?
1) We can focus on the Lord as the sovereign one to whom we must submit ourselves;
(In verse 11 Paul saying that he learned to be content is his understanding that everything is under God's sovereignty.)
2) We can focus on the Lord as the Savior we have to serve.
(Matthew 6:33, But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. )
(Matthew 6:25, Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?)