|Raymund and Jeff|
So many people seem so highly dissatisfied today.
They always seem so unhappy, unfulfilled, and unsatisfied about everything going on in their life.
They walk around mechanically, confused and unconscious, kind of like in auto-pilot. They lack fulfillment.
“I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:11-13
In this passage, the Apostle Paul is saying that contentment can be learned.
There are three ways:
- Don’t compare yourself to others.
- Adapt to change.
- Draw on God’s power.
Easy to remember, right?
Let’s take a closer look on these three.
#1 - Don’t Compare Yourself to Others
Two things can happen when you compare yourself to others. Either you become prideful (because you see yourself better than others) or you become jealous or envious (because you don’t have what others have).
In line with that, we can say that there are two levels of envy:
a. “I want what you have”
b. and “I wish you didn’t have it”
The first level is wanting someone else has. The second is not wanting others to have what you have and tend to put others down to stop them from achieving recognition.
“Comparing yourself to others always leads to discontent.”
Paul has learned contentment by not comparing himself to others. If you want to learn to be content you have to avoid comparisons, for:
· There will always be people that make more money than you.
· There will always be people who are smarter than you.
· There will always be people who are better looking than you.
We can never find happiness by looking around at what others have or don’t have.
Here are three misconceptions about happiness:
a. I must have what others have to be happy. We are all uniquely created by God. We can only find true happiness through Him.
b. I must be liked by everyone in order to be happy. We can’t please everybody. Even Jesus couldn’t.
c. Having more will make me happy. More material things mean more worries on how to clean, store, and maintain it. More activities mean more stress, pressure, and anxiety.
#2 - Adapt to Change
Everything in life changes. If there is nothing else that is happening to you right now – you are at least getting older. Someone has said, “The only consistency in life – is that there is always change.”
Life is full of ups and downs – emotionally, physically, mentally, and financially. Everything in life is changing. If we could live long enough we could watch the mountains erode in the sea. Change is certain.
The next question is: How well do we handle changes?
Do we get mad? moody? uptight? frightened? frustrated?
Paul says that one of the secrets of learning to be content in life is the ability to adjust to all kinds of circumstances and change.
If we are going to be successful in life we need to learn to adjust to change in a positive manner. Your happiness in life is largely dependent upon your ability to adapt and adjust to change.
#3 - Draw on God’s Power
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
This is one of the life verses of my friend Raymund. I see this posted on his office work desk every time.
We must remember that God has more power than we can ever imagine – and He is willing to strengthen us!
Are you facing a big problem in life? God wants to give you the strength to make it through.
Learning to be content in life comes from the confidence that God will see us through. That He will give us the power to meet each and every situation and circumstance head on.
Contentment involves confidence – not in your own power – but on God’s power.
There is this article in Our Daily Bread dated May 18, 1994 that tells the story of a certain Philip Parham. He is a rich industrialist who was disturbed in finding a fisherman sitting lazily beside his boat.
The story goes on like this:
“Why aren’t you out there fishing?” he asked.
“Because I’ve caught enough fish for today,” said the fisherman.
“Why don’t you catch more fish than you need”’ the rich man asked.
“What would I do with them?”
“You could earn more money,” came the impatient reply, “and buy a better boat so you could go deeper and catch more fish. You could purchase nylon nets, catch even more fish, and make more money. Soon you’d have a fleet of boats and be rich like me.”
The fisherman asked, “Then what would I do?”
“You could sit down and enjoy life,” said the industrialist.
“What do you think I’m doing now?” the fisherman replied as he looked placidly out to sea.
The secret of a satisfying life is contentment.
We will not find true happiness, fulfillment, and success on temporary material possessions, places, power, and positions.
They disappoint us in one time or another, and bring a wrong sense of joy. They hold our expectations only for a moment. They bring happiness in our hearts only for a time.
The greatest source of joy, therefore, is something or someone who is permanent, unchanging, and eternal. And that is our Lord Jesus Christ.
(Acknowledgment: I would like to thank Tom Shepard, Richard Warren, and Allan Smith for the ideas presented.)