Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content (Philippians 4:11, ESV).
Do you want contentment but find it elusive? Be encouraged. Even the apostle Paul, an exemplary Christ follower, realized being content was something he had to learn. If Paul had to pursue contentment, let’s acknowledge our need to work on it, too.
In our covetous culture, genuine contentment is rare. But while you may not have everything you want, nothing can garrison your heart and guard your joy like knowing you have everything you need. To learn lasting, biblical contentment that applies “in whatever situation,” make note of these three choices.
1. Seek it. Seek contentment as a lifestyle. Choose it. Acknowledge that you would not be happier if you had more—in truth, you’d likely be more miserable. God’s Word contains clear warnings for us: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:25). “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction” (1 Timothy 6:9). Do you believe this yet? More does not equal happier!
2. Say it. Cultivate the capacity to say, “I have enough.” Let those words ring through your home. Push yourself back from the table early and say, “I’ve had enough.” When you handle money—a surprise bonus from work, an inheritance from your great-aunt, even just an extra bill in your pocket—resist the cravings for more. Follow the words “I have enough” with the prayer: “Lord, how can I use this for You?”
“I have enough” runs counter to our culture, but there is victory in this idea. So even if you don’t fully believe it yet, decide to trust God’s provision and say, “I have enough.” The trust of contentment is like the trust we exercise at conversion: I don’t know if this will change my life, but my own thing is not working. Lord, if You’re real, come into my life and forgive my sins. That’s a salvation breakthrough. Have a sanctification breakthrough, and say by faith, “God, I have enough.” Let those words ring from our churches and our homes and our cars and our trips to the store.
3. Settle it. Psalm 62:10 advises us, “If riches increase, set not your heart on them.” Here’s the challenge: choose a lifestyle; don’t let your income dictate your lifestyle. Identify a comfortable level of living that meets your needs, and do not compromise that with increased spending when more income arrives. If you don’t choose a lifestyle, this culture will choose one for you—and by default, it will be the lifestyle of living beyond your means. Be counter-cultural! Be radical! Choose a lifestyle that’s biblically based; eternally focused; others-oriented.
Let enough be enough. Learn from the examples of those around you (both the contented and the covetous). You will save yourself a world of hurt and know the joy of a truly content heart.