Contentment is a funny word. It can hold so much purpose and meaning for the Christian life. It is also a quality that we struggle to find proper balance on. Sometimes we struggle with being content over our financial situations. We are unhappy with the work we are doing or the wages we receive for the work. Sometimes we lose contentment over school. We become sick of studying, and just want to move on to the “real world”. Maybe we struggle being content over singleness. We do not want to be lonely.
Then there is the other side of the coin. Some people are often blamed for being overly content. They are told they are too comfortable with how their life is, and that things need to change. How can this be? If Scripture says we are to be content, then how could we possibly be too content with our circumstances?
Paul discusses this issue in Philippians 4:11-13 “Not that I am 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.”
A beautiful passage that is often misquoted. I want to move backwards on this passage by first talking about the phrase, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me”. People take this statement out of its context all the time. The majority who use this verse would imply that we can succeed in any endeavor we set out on as long as we do it through God. That simply is not correct. Anyone who looks at the life of the average Christian will know this is simply not true. We must look at this phrase in the context of the letter to the Philippians.
This phrase is referring to our obedience to God, and the contentment we can find in that. We can be content under any circumstance because of the strength God gives us. Because God gives us strength, we can properly serve Him in the way He calls us to. The circumstances revolving around contentment are an illusion.
Yes, you read that correctly. Contentment has nothing to do with our circumstances. We often think of contentment being a virtue when we are going through a difficult time. However, contentment is something that should flow out from us no matter where we are at in life. Why? Because God is going to change our lives regularly.
It is actually not wrong to desire for a change. God calls us to change. Sometimes He calls us to a different location or work. Sometimes He calls us to a new standard of living. Sometimes He calls us to a person. Sometimes he just calls us out of a specific situation. However, the contentment is focused on realizing these things are on God’s timetable. God will never move you forward if you cannot remain content on Him where you currently are.
Contentment is something that is focused on God rather than our circumstances. This is why you could be content with your current situation, but not really content in the way you need to be. A good question to ask yourself is if everything would change in your life, would you still remain content in who God is and what He is doing?
Are you being content over your current living circumstances, or are you being content in God? If your contentment is placed in God then it will never matter what your circumstances are. Sometimes God is waiting to move you in a direction you desire and feel He wants you to go until you learn how to be content without that very desire. God needs to be what you delight in.