#10. An Attitude of Contentment
Paul is in prison. And he says, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances (4:11).” It is a lesson that we need to learn too. Most of us go through good circumstances in life; yet we complain all the time.
Think about Paul. He is rejoicing greatly even while in prison. He says he has learned the secret of being content in any and every situation. Well fed or hungry, having plenty or in want; he is content.
What then is this secret he is talking about? He learned not to focus on changing outward circumstances; but on the inward strength provided by Jesus Christ dwelling within him. Therefore he boldly proclaims, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (4:13).
The lesson is simply the willingness to lean heavily on Jesus Christ for strength. It is not “I can.” But it is “I can . . . through him.”
There are two thoughts that we need to focus on here:
One is not to be attached too much to earthly things.
If you look around, you will find people in deep love with their gadgets like mobile phones or cars or music systems. They idolize these things and often they take more important places in their lives than people. We need to remember what Jesus said, “A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15). By not being attached to earthly things beyond measure you will find it easy to be content in any and every situation.
Secondly, learn to say, “I can . . . through him.”
You may find certain tasks difficult to do. You may not have a natural ability to take up certain responsibilities. Thank God for your lack and lean heavily on Jesus for your strength. Surely, along with Paul, you will be able to do everything through him who gives you strength.
Let us remember that this lesson is not a pep talk given by Paul to boost your confidence. He is not teaching you a mantra or slogan. He is simply sharing with you the reality of the living Saviour whose Presence is made real to you and me by the Spirit of the Living God. In him is strength; and that strength is yours.
Believe it and act on it.
Say, “I can . . . through him!”