By Amanda Idleman, Crosswalk.com
The Spiritual Discipline of Contentment
By Amanda Idleman
“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” - Philippians 4:11-13
We’ve all probably heard the latter part of this passage….”I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” It’s a beautiful message of strength, help, and confidence from the Lord! However, the context of these words is so important to understand their message. Paul is explaining that he has endured lows, hunger, and need. It is in these trying situations that he was taught the discipline of contentment. It was then that he realized that he can do all things through the power of Christ.
Not to rain on the parade of this beloved verse but the idea that we have to endure hardship to understand what it means to be content and provided for is not as exciting as just focusing on the promise that we'll always, almost magically, have what we need in Christ.
Contentment from the bible is usually associated with moderation, a sense of God's guidance and readiness for obedience. The definition of contentment is the state of being satisfied or the source of satisfaction. How many of us find ourselves longing to be content with our lives, bodies, marriages, finances, circumstances, personalities, faith, and stories that we have been given?
Contentment is a discipline, and it is hard.
Envy, ungratefulness, comparison, and fear are the things that stop us from living with contentment. Contentment is not a static state of being. It's the active pursuit of the life God has just for YOU. It's being ready to be obedient to God’s guidance in every season. It requires laser focus on what God has for you without being distracted by what could be instead. Contentment means we have to abandon the pursuit of perfection and instead strive for God’s beauty and redemption in our lives. Seeing God’s beauty often takes a change in mindset and not circumstances.
This may look like appreciating the way your body has served you even if it’s not in perfect shape, it can be choosing to show love to your husband even though you experienced many seasons of struggle together or focusing on the ways you are growing rather than obsessing over your failures. Letting go of the pride that says “I have to or I need to” can be one of the hardest things for believers to do. Yet, this is the type of surrender we are called to. Our lives are no longer our own, we are a new creation in Christ!
Contentment is a posture. It’s being in the presence of God first before we pursue action. It’s strategic stillness in our lives so we can have the right focus. Contentment feels like a strong sense of faith that your life is only possible because you are connected to your Creator. It’s living as though He is your strength and portion!
Contentment is a gift. It often can be a fleeting feeling of rightness in a moment or a season. The enemy is always working to steal our peace and push into our minds another reason to doubt, fear, worry, or need. God gives us the gift of assurance, peace, joy, of knowing we are in his will and that we are loved. Even though it can be hard to find contentment in our lives, it is a good gift worth pursuing.
Intersecting Faith and Life:
Pause to consider how you can cultivate more contentment in your life. How can you better model for your children peace and enoughness in a culture that screams more, more, more! What words communicate that God is enough for you, that your life is His, and while you are always moving forward, you are never asked to strive. You just have to walk hand-in-hand with Him. That is all that is required of you.
- Bible Verses about Contentment
- What We Need to Know about the Spiritual Discipline of Contentment
- Practicing the Discipline of Contentment
Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Deagreez
Amanda Idleman is a writer whose passion is to encourage others to live joyfully. She writes devotions for My Daily Bible Verse Devotional and Podcast, Crosswalk Couples Devotional, the Daily Devotional App, she has work published with Her View from Home, on the MOPS Blog, and is a regular contributor for Crosswalk.com. She has most recently published a devotional, Comfort: A 30 Day Devotional Exploring God's Heart of Love for Mommas. You can find out more about Amanda on her Facebook Page or follow her on Instagram.