The Secret to Contentment

The counter-cultural antidote to consumerism is contentment nurtured through giving.

But how do you develop that kind of contentment?

The Apostle Paul teaches us about contentment in the last chapter of Philippians when he says, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.” (4:12) What’s his secret?

1. Remember what’s important — “For me to live is Christ.” (Phil. 1:12)  Paul learned contentment by keeping his focus on what’s most important.  His top priority was living for Jesus Christ.  We learn contentment when we focus on the priority of living for Jesus Christ and not for ourselves.

2. Let go of the past — “Forgetting what is behind…” (Phil. 3:13)  Paul purposed to put his past behind him.  Of all people, Paul could have let his previous life of persecuting the church send him into a cycle of guilt and regret.  Instead, he was able to forget about it through his experience of forgiveness.  As a result he was content in the present.  Experiencing and offering forgiveness frees us from our past.

3.  Look ahead with hope — “…straining toward what is ahead.”  (Phil. 3:13)  Paul kept his eye on the prize of becoming and doing all that God intended for him.  Having let go of his past, Paul was empowered by God’s Spirit (see below) to focus on God’s future for him.  We, too, find contentment when we look forward to God’s goal for our lives and let it impact our present.

4. Depend upon God daily — “And my God shall supply all your needs…” (Phil. 4:19) & “I can do all things through Christ … ” (Phil. 4:13) Chasing after our wants — whether material, relational, or emotional — through our own efforts is a futile endeavor that ends in dissatisfaction.  On the other hand, depending upon God to provide for our needs frees us to give away ourselves and possessions to others through the power of the indwelling Spirit of Jesus Christ. When we give we receive the blessing of contentment.

What about you?  Are caught up in today’s consumer culture that grabs and hoards material things?  Are you distracted by “stuff” and filled with dissatisfaction?  Are you demanding that others fulfill your emotional/relational desires and frustrated that your needs aren’t being met?

If so, learn from Paul.  He was content focusing on the priority of living the Christ-life, experiencing the freedom of forgiveness from his past, looking ahead with hope, and depending upon God to provide for his needs as he gave himself to God’s purpose in and through his life.

Learn contentment!

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Disciples Are Learners…Learners are Readers

What are you reading? Here is what I’ve enjoyed reading!

Scott’s Goodreads Bookshelf

Mere Christianity
The Screwtape Letters
The Shack
Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth
The Cost of Discipleship
Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community
In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership
The Politics of Jesus: Vicit Agnus Noster
Everything Must Change
God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It
Letters & Papers from Prison
A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I Am a Missional, Evangelical, Post/Protestant, Liberal/Conservative, Mystical/Poetic, Biblical, Charismatic/Conte
Resident Aliens
The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth am I Here for?
Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger: Moving from Affluence to Generosity
The Prayer of Jabez:  Breaking Through to the Blessed Life
The Wounded Healer
The Spirit of the Disciplines : Understanding How God Changes Lives
How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth
Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality

Scott Corwin’s favorite books »