I was reading Philippians 4 yesterday when this little line really caught my attention. It’s found in verse 11.
I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.
What does it mean to be content? Does it mean that we should just accept whatever circumstances are in our lives? Does it mean we should be satisfied with what we have and not strive for anything better?
If you look in a Thesaurus, you will find the following explanations and synonyms for the word ‘content’.
- at ease
- not complaining.
The antonyms will explain it even better:
I believe there is a lesson hidden in this little line. Paul certainly did not have it easy. If you read through the epistles of Paul, you will find that he often suffered hardship. Yet he says in this verse that he has learnt to be content. Was Paul so satisfied with the hardships that he didn’t wish for anything better? No.
Philippians 3: 13-14 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Here in the previous chapter he says that he did not focus on what is behind, he was constantly stretching himself out to reach what is ahead. So he had dreams. He had goals. And he was working towards them.
So where does the contentment come in? It is our attitude. Look again at the synonyms and antonyms. Regardless of our circumstances, we should choose to be happy and gratified – there are still things we should be thankful for. We should make a conscious effort to stop complaining and rather choose to be thankful. We should choose to stop being moody and depressed if our circumstances are not the way we want them to be. We should choose to stop worrying about the future – God is in control of that too. We can work towards our goals and dreams with a good attitude instead. It will be much more pleasant for the people around us too…
Choose today to be thankful. Choose to stop worrying. Choose to be in good spirits. Choose to be content.