How I praise the Lord that you are concerned about me again. I know you have always been concerned for me, but you didn’t have the chance to help me. Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. Even so, you have done well to share with me in my present difficulty.
As you know, you Philippians were the only ones who gave me financial help when I first brought you the Good News and then travelled on from Macedonia. No other church did this. Even when I was in Thessalonica you sent help more than once. I don’t say this because I want a gift from you. Rather, I want you to receive a reward for your kindness.
At the moment I have all I need—and more! I am generously supplied with the gifts you sent me with Epaphroditus. They are a sweet-smelling sacrifice that is acceptable and pleasing to God. And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.
Now all glory to God our Father forever and ever! Amen. -Philippians 4:10-20
Joy comes from being content in all things. The more we give thanks to God for the gifts he gives us, the more we experience joy.
Tell the truth. How would you fill in the following statement “If only I had….”? Here are some examples of what could be said. “If only I had more money I would…” “If only had not gained so much weight…” “If only I had a beautiful face…” “If only I had a mate…” “If only I had a day off…”
We often times think if we had the right things we would be happy and our lives complete. But until we meet Christ, it doesn’t happen.
Paul talks about contentment in the above passage from Philippians. In the beginning, Paul seems to be reflective, thinking about the concern and care the Philippians have given him. He is grateful for their financial help as they were the only church that did. He is also grateful for the gifts they sent to him with Epaphroditus. He shares how pleased God is with their gifts.
Paul doesn’t ask for more gifts. He has plenty to sustain him wherever he may go. He wants to see the Philippians be full of Christ’s glorious riches. He wants to see fruit evident in their lives. He wants them to know the joy and contentment he knows.
What does it mean being content? The adjective meaning for the word content is being satisfied with what one is or has; not wanting more or anything else (dictionary.com). Paul says that he has learnt “the secret of being content.” No matter what Paul has been through, he has learnt that true contentment is only found in Christ. The things we have here on earth are momentary. They will not last forever. When we die, we will not be taking our possessions with us. Our souls matter more than any possession we can have.
Without Christ, we are lost. We are heading to an eternal life of hell and damnation. Without Christ, we will always be looking for something to fill our hearts. We will always want more and more because nothing will satisfy us. People today are looking for answers everywhere. Contentment can only be truly found in Jesus Christ.
So far this year I have been keeping a journal for each day of what gives me joy. I am going to be honest, some days already have been harder than others to find joy. However, I am determined to find something good in each day. How can I do this? Being content in what God has given me. I have so much to be grateful for. In fact, the more I discover things that bring me joy in each day, the more I am encouraged in my spirit and realise how content I am in Christ. I have also found that fellow Christians have encouraged me by their gifts and words. Those things have brought me joy on days where it has been very difficult just to make it through.
This is not an easy task. I didn’t expect it to be. However, I just want a glimpse of the God-moments of each day. I want to take time to say thank you for what he has given me. There is good in each day, despite the constant nerve and muscle pain and fatigue. I have plenty. My Lord provides all that I need.
I have also found prayer is key to when I find it hard to find something joyful. When I begin to share with God my frustrations, he gently speaks to my heart and gives me insight to the gifts he has given me.
Paul says all of his needs have been met. He is taken care of. Paul has been through a lot. He wrote most of his letters in prison. Prison in his days was cold, smelly, wet, and miserable. They didn’t have the luxury of three square meals a day, exercise, etc. Usually, people were chained together in awful conditions. Paul even praises the Lord in prison, singing songs of praise and thanksgiving to the Lord. If anyone had any reason to be angry, to be discontent, and turn his back on God, it would have been Paul. However, Paul’s heart was dramatically changed and he saw it a privilege to undergo such treatment for the Lord’s sake.
From Paul’s example, I see I can be content in all things. I don’t need possessions to make me joyful. God takes care of my every need. He looks after me. I have strength to keep going through Christ in me. No matter what each day throws at me, I have the power of God living in me, carrying me through.
I have many reasons to be joyful and content. First and foremost, I have eternal life because Jesus is my Lord and Saviour. Second, I have all I need as God has provided for me. Third, I am blessed with a wonderful family and some terrific friends. Fourth, I have Christ living in me, empowering me for his ministry despite my current health situation.
I have had several people say they could not think of something to be joyful about every day. I believe I can and I am determined that I will. For I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Once we find contentment in all things, joy will just come naturally through the power of the Holy Spirit. I challenge you to find something to be joyful about this week. Even if it is difficult to, pray about it. I promise God will bless you in return. The more you do this, the more content you will and your attitude will change towards life.
My goal is to be joyful. I want to live joy out loud this year. I want joy to flood my soul. I want to be content in all things despite what other people and especially the world may say. Will you join me?