What is Paul’s Secret Of Contentment?
The Apostle Paul found the secret of contentment, even in hardships, so what was Paul’s secret about learning contentment?
The Apostle Paul found the secret of contentment, even in hardships, so what was Paul’s secret about learning contentment? To start with, we can actually choose to live under one of two tents in life; the tent of contentment or the tent of discontentment. Surely you know which tent is harder to live in. People who are never content with anything seem to rob the oxygen out of the air, taking the wind out of our sails, so to speak. We’re almost afraid to say anything at all because then they’ll write out a list of reasons for why they’re so discontented with what you just brought up. That’s a constant drag-down in relationships and in fellowship with others, and it can rub off on us if we’re not careful. It seems, as my friend Pastor Jack Coleman said; “Some people are only happy if they’re complaining about something.”
The Apostle Paul reminded Pastor Timothy that “Godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content” (1 Tim 6:6-8). The Apostle Paul asked the rhetorical question, “What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it” (1 Cor 4:7)? Everything we have comes from God, even our salvation (Eph 2:8-9), so how could we ever be discontented with our status before God!? We should be the most joyful people on the planet, yet we can be the wet blanket at a gathering.
Paul never complained about not having enough from God or being in prison again, so how did Paul learn this secret of contentment he wrote about? To begin with, Paul was never caught writing or “speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Phil 4:11-13).
You cannot learn to be content until you’ve experienced circumstances that can produce discontentment. You cannot exercise the muscle of contentment unless it has been pushing back against being discontented. We don’t learn contentment when things are going well, but when troubles pile up around us. Just like in times where God seems silent, we learn to have faith in Him, but time and again, He has proven Himself faithful, so I guess faith is a lot like film; it’s best developed in the dark. It’s the same for contentment. We must pass through difficulties to learn how to put all things into perspective (Rom 8:28). We cannot really know joy until we’ve known her cousin, sorrow.
Money and Contentment
It’s so easy to have money become our God. When the rich see their wealth, it’s almost as if they say to their wealth, “Wealth, we have much goods…let‘s build bigger storehouses so we can accumulate more wealth…and then we can eat, drink and enjoy.” This story sounds familiar doesn’t it (Luke 12:18-19)? For those who trust in riches, Jesus says that a big surprise will hit them someday, but when it’s too late. The Lord warned that for some, God will say to her or to “him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be” (Luke 12:20)? That’s why a love of money or a lack of money can produce discontentment and why we are warned to “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb 13:5). I know several people who are poor, and yet they are among the most content people on the planet! Why? They don’t love money; they love the Lord.
Possessions and Contentment
Jesus compares our worth to God to the birds of the air, which are really worth little money, but compared to them, God cares for us infinitely more. With that in mind, Jesus says, “do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they” (Matt 6:25-26)? Even in times of desperate need, David trusted God and absolutely knew for certain that “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1). David didn’t say “I shall not need” but “I shall not want,” so wants and needs are not the same thing. Food and clothing are needs…the latest cell phone is not.
To be contented is to make a choice. We’re not helpless victims of circumstances that leave us no choice but to be discontented. When we put our calling and salvation into perspective, we know nothing that happens (the good, the bad, and the ugly) will ever thwart God’s good purposes for us (Rom 8:28). If you’ve never repented, then instead of all things working out for your best for those who love God and are called by God, all things will work out for your worst and you’ll have the worst ending imaginable (Rev 20:12-15). There is still time my friend…even while you are reading this, to put your trust in the Savior and confess to the world your faith in Christ (Rom 10:9-13). Then you will see contentment in ways that cannot be measured (Rom 8:18) and someday, in the New Heavens and the New Earth (Rev 20:1-5). That’s my prayer for whoever is reading this.
Here is some related reading for you: Top 10 Bible Verses About Contentment With Commentary
Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible: English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.