What is the secret to contentment?
Two thousand years ago, stoic philosophers referred to contentment as “self-sufficiency,” or “to be independent of external circumstances.” Contentment literally means “to be held together.” Inside each of us is a desire to hold it all together. Paul closed his letter to the church at Philippi describing the secret to attaining this inner peace: trust in the Giver, not the gifts.
“I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been 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 everything through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:10-13).
First, Paul taught that the secret to freedom from allowing circumstances to control our emotions is to trust in the Giver, Christ (Philippians 4:10-13). Paul thanked the church for their gift to his ministry to advance the kingdom of Christ. He noted that he had learned, whether in plenty or in want, that the secret to contentment was that he could do all things through Christ who gave him strength (Philippians 4:13).
We must grasp the power of the word, “through.” Every circumstance, whether we win, lose or draw, is an opportunity to grow in our intimacy with Christ, as we live through our Restorer. True inner peace comes only in Christ. In essence, Paul described contentment as Christ-sufficiency.
Do you trust in the Giver or the gifts? How many times have you stopped during your day and asked God for His guidance in making decisions? Try the Philippians 4:13 Experiment and do everything through Christ, who will restore your heart.