There is a verse of scripture, which I have always loved, that talks about having ‘learned the secret of being content’. This was written by the apostle Paul to the church in Philippi as part of a thank-you for the gifts that they had sent him. Although the gifts were greatly appreciated, the apostle was emphasizing that we can know true contentment in Christ regardless of our circumstances.
The apostle Paul wrote a letter to the Philippian church to encourage the believers there to live joyfully in Christ Jesus. The church in Philippi was one that Paul had founded on a missionary journey and a church that had supported him right from the start.
This was a church that brought him joy, and the people there were on his heart and mind. He wanted them to know that they could rejoice, and find contentment in Christ, whatever their circumstances – and this was his own experience.
The letter itself reveals that it was written while Paul was a prisoner in Rome. Tradition has it that this was during the time he was in his own rented house but under armed guard. People were free to come and see him, and Paul willingly shared the gospel with all his visitors.
“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.”Philippians 4:12-13
What is The Secret of Contentment in The Bible?
Firstly, Paul acknowledges that he has experienced times of plenty and times of need. In a way, this is an understatement because we know from some of his other letters the times of persecution and hardship that he had endured.
But Paul’s purpose here is not to focus on what he had suffered, but on what he had learned through it all. And so, he makes a startling statement that he has learned the secret of contentment in Christ. This is spiritual contentment in any situation and regardless of external circumstances.
Contentment in Christ
What secret had Paul discovered? Now a secret is something that is shared through intimacy. You whisper a secret, you need to get close to the person that you are sharing it with, to speak quietly in their ear. They need to be paying attention and listening carefully. A secret is not shouted out for all to hear, it is shared confidence.
The secret that Paul learned is that he is not controlled by external circumstances. If we pause and think about that for a moment…There are so many things in life that are totally beyond our control. And yet we struggle to hold onto some resemblance of control and in doing so increase our stress and raise our anxiety levels!
What is spiritual contentment?
It is interesting that Paul states, firstly, that he has learned the secret of contentment in Christ in times of plenty, of abundance. Are you thinking, surely that would be easy? I know from my own experience, however, how easy it is when things are going well to start to assume that we have control of the situation. Pride can creep in, and we can start to think we are doing fine in our own strength. Then, we start to neglect our relationship with the Lord…
But how quickly things can change, sometimes almost overnight – life is fragile apart from God.
Paul then goes on to say that he has learned the secret of contentment in times of hardship. Those times of need when we are struggling to cope with life’s problems and difficulties. But so often it is in and through the trials of life that we draw closer to God and cling to Him.
Paul is encouraging us to know that true spiritual contentment comes from intimacy with God, and is not dependant on our external circumstances. Paul had heard God’s whisper, that He is in control, and we are secure in Him.
Spiritual contentment grows when we learn to trust and depend on God in any and every situation. It is when we know, by our own experience, that God has and will provide all that we need, that He is our strength for whatever the day may bring.
3 Benefits of Contentment in the Bible
To learn the secret of contentment, we need to make space and take time for our relationship with God. Sometimes we are gifted that space and time, but often we need to be creative to make the space and find the time. This may involve making changes to our priorities, putting something down, or even giving something up completely. But there are hidden benefits, and every area of our life is blessed when we find contentment in Christ Jesus.
Related Post: Setting Your Priorities
Joy of the Lord
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”Philippians 4:4
Contentment is developed through intimacy with God. It is found by spending personal time in His presence. As we make room and draw near to God, He whispers to our spirit and teaches us what is in our hearts. God will gently reveal to us what He is refining, and what needs bringing to the surface to be dealt with.
What has been troubling us and stealing our joy? What area of our life do we need to release and give control to God?
Peace of God
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”Philippians 4:6-7
As we let go and give our concerns to God, we have a promise of a divine exchange that we will receive His peace. God has our situation in hand, He is watching over our lives. When we listen attentively, we will hear His whisper, reminding us of His promises, love, and faithfulness. God has got this – whatever this may be!
We can treasure those words and hold them close, receiving strength for the day. As we learn to trust in God, to release and let go of our control, to give all our life into God’s hands, He always multiplies back a blessing!
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”Philippians 4:8
The benefits of contentment in Christ flow from Him and through intimacy with Him and are all inextricably linked. The joy of knowing the love of the Lord Jesus as our Savior draws us to Him, to want to spend more time in His presence.
As we bring our prayers to Him with thanksgiving, we receive His peace and are released from anxiety. In the love, joy, and peace of the Holy Spirit we see God’s goodness and His hand at work in the everyday small moments and we are so grateful! Thankfulness becomes a benefit of contentment, and our contentment in Christ grows through thanksgiving!
Thankfulness is a benefit of spiritual contentment – and contentment grows through thanksgiving!Tweet
Related Post: Paul’s First Converts in Philippi