The Secret of Contentment

The Secret of Contentment

Daily Reading: (Philippians 4:10-13):

“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.”

We will find that the “all things” Paul references he can do through Christ (Philippians 4:13), is connected to the secret of contentment he has found (Philippians 4:12).

The gift Paul received from the church could have caused a lot of different emotions ways. It was late to arrive, Paul’s feelings could have been anxious, uneasy, or upset about it.

The person bringing the gift was deathly ill, perhaps even contagious. Paul could have been afraid for Epaphroditus and worried about his own health.

The distance the gift the church was sending Paul (Philippi to Rome) was approximately 4,608 miles and so instead of having a negative emotion,the apostle of grace sees Epaphroditus through the eyes of grace and says give this guy a hero’s welcome. “So then, welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor people like him, because he almost died for the work of Christ.”

Let’s celebrate those who do a work of Christ regardless of how successful the endeavor may appear on the outside. The reason Paul does not land in the negative emotions unsatisfied camp is because Paul was never focused on the gift to begin with. Verse ten gives us this insight: “I rejoiced greatly in the Lord” Contentment is secured as you view everything made available to you in Christ which will cause your spirit to rejoice. The focus was not on the gift but the Giver. I am not meaning the church, although, there will be gratitude toward the brothers and sisters in Christ but this is what Christ has done in them. Paul was expecting Jesus to bear the fruit of generosity in their lives.  

Generosity isn’t a fruit of the Spirit- is it? “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control(Galatians 5:22-23a). I don’t see generosity listed there, but it actually is. Most translations call it “goodness,” because the root word means “good,” but, given the context, a better interpretation would be “generous,” which is the way it is worded in the New Revised Standard.

In Philippians 4 Paul says he has needs, but he is not needy because God is going to meet His needs (Philippians 4:12). The way the supply comes to us changes so it is easy for us to worry and doubt and ask God what are you doing when it is delayed or comes about another way. That is the problem that arises when we put our focus on the supply instead of the Supplier, we can move from the contentment camp to the unsatisfied one. New seasons means new supply. God’s provision is ongoing (the source doesn’t change, but the way the supply comes does).

But our God, Paul says seven verses later will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19). “He meets the needs according to” which is the Greek Word (kata) it means daily. So, it doesn’t matter if your daily need is great or it is small, you can be content, God will meet our needs every day abundantly.

What is the secret of contentment?

William Barclay says, “contentment comes from knowing God and delighting in his sovereign goodness and fatherly care.”[1] The temptation to be discontent is everywhere. Paul grew to believe with great conviction all of who Christ was in his life—his Savior, his Friend, his Provider, his Lord—and it was the essence of what he needed most. The sufficiency of Christ that Paul experienced enabled him to have a strong heart of contentment (joy, peace, and gratitude) in the best and worst of times. Because Christ lived in Him and was with Him always.


[1] William Barcley. The Secret of Contentment. P&R Publishing