Search This Blog

Friday, November 21, 2014

Content in Nothing

Philippians 4:10-13 (ESV)
10  I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. 11  Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12  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. 13  I can do all things through him who strengthens me.  EndFragment

Content is a word that has more than one meaning. In one context it means that which is on the inside. Thus, we look for the "contents" in a box. We say that a movie or book has no "content." We say that someone's speech has great content.

On an other hand "content" means peaceful and serene. It means that we are satisfied with our circumstances. It means that our anxieties are gone. We say that we are "content" after a good meal. We are "content" with the results of a test. We are "content" in our lives.

Or course, we cannot look at the English meaning but the Greek word underlying the English translation. It comes from a compound word which essentially means "self complacent." I don't believe the English can truly give us an accurate meaning. Taken in context, it means a great deal more.

Paul's desire is to tell the Philippians that he if fine. He expresses his gratification of the gift they have sent him. He wants them to know that this isn't the source of his contentment. He is content in all circumstances. His contentment comes from the content that exists within him.

Most people, even Christians, never get to this point. I suppose the world keeps telling them that they must maintain a certain lifestyle. There are things the world says that everyone deserves. The world is wrong.

Contentment is never long lasting as long as we think that there are advantages which are inherently ours. I can't be content if I am hungry when I deserve a good meal. I can't be content when I see someone drive by in a car while I am forced to walk. The funny thing is that abundance in things doesn't actually make our contentment any greater. We always have the capacity to want more than we have. We are always looking at the horizon and never satisfied with where we are for long.

Yet, Paul says he is content whether he has an abundance or nothing at all. He says that he is able to do that with "Him who strengthens me." That makes me think that I and other Christians rarely really depend upon the strength that Christ provides. We look at our circumstances just like the rest of the world. 

Is this because we don't really understand what it is to be content? Have we so defined our contentment with this world that we will hang onto it with our last dying breath? I believe so. I believe we work very hard to be content with the things in the world. We will continue to do so unless we are forced to be content in Christ.

Now, I wished I could say that I was where Paul was. I struggle greatly with contentment when things aren't going well. It makes we reach deep into my faith, call out to Jesus and believe in His deliverance even when I can see no evidence. It makes me do without the things the world says that I deserve. I wish it didn't take a crisis to make me act this way.

So, I know it is possible to be content with nothing to show for it but I struggle to be so. And I reach down today to be that content person.

No comments: