Philippians 4:11-13: "I'm not saying this because I'm in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things who gives me strength."
Philippians 4:19: "And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus."
One of the many things God has been teaching me lately in my quiet times with him is this principle of being content. He's taught me and I've learned from his example how to be thankful in all things, good or bad, but it is an entirely different matter being content in those same situations, good or bad, in plenty or in want. For those of you who don't know me very well, I'm an all or nothing kind of guy. There's not really any shades of gray with me. But I'm also a "bigger and better" guy as well. My mind races all the time with new ideas and new things I want to do and accomplish so I'm always accomplishing one thing while planning another at the same time. At the men's retreat with Gateway Church that I went to 3 weeks ago or so, I don't know if I shared this, but God gave me a picture while I was praying and reading his word and journaling. He said (and I could see this as clear as day): "You're living your life like a shopping spree. You're rushing down every isle, pulling as many things off of the shelf as you can before they blow the whistle, trying to get to the finish-line with more things in your basket than the others." Then he said to me: "I don't want you to do that anymore. I want you to slow down and only pull the things off of the shelf that I tell you to. What's the point in having this basket full of stuff if it wasn't what I wanted for you?" Pretty heavy huh?!? See, he was showing me how I was constantly not content with where I was, or what I had, or what I was doing and I was having to do the next thing to satisfy me. But that's not what he wants for me. He wants me to accomplish more with less by only doing the things he asks me to and only going for the things he tells me to!
I think we get caught up in the monetary side of contentment: money. But this verse isn't only talking about money. Being content with the gifts given you means monetary and material gifts, sure, but it also is talking about spiritual gifts and talents as well. In the States we are always caught in this rat race to try to be like someone else. Young girls are taught they need to look like a model and be popular like the movie stars. Young boys are taught they have to be the star athlete. Moms think they have to be the everything to everyone (just like so and so's wife). And men are constantly trying to accumulate more for them and their family or are duped into thinking the more toys they have the more successful they look. It's all just a lie from the enemy!! God says that in any situation, be content and be happy with what God has blessed you with because he won't bless you with anymore until you've proved faithful with that. Satan knows that if he can get you focused on stuff and on the things you can have, you'll take your eyes off of Jesus. You start to trust in the things of this world and the possessions you have instead of the love and direction and provision of the living God. It sounds really silly when you write or read it like that but it's so true. I do it all the time and it is always a constant struggle with the flesh to not put any stock in your bank account or savings account or investments because none of it is yours anyway!!
I think it's a matter of perspective really. If we always remember that we are merely stewards of all that we have and that we don't own any of it, it's not as hard to keep from being attached to the things of life. I'm still working on this one alot and am learning daily, but when I get frustrated or feel my contentment drifting away, I remember: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!"