When folks greet me with a casual, “How are you today?” My frequent response is a lighthearted, “Just fine, all things considered.” This sometimes gets a chuckle, but my quip holds a world of truth for me. You might even say it’s my motto.
The apostle, Paul, wrote this bit of inspiration and wisdom to the believers in the Macedonian city of Philippi:
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.-Philippians 4:12
That verse has been much in my mind in recent days.
In today’s culture of entitlement, ambition and self-improvement, we are encouraged to look critically at our circumstances with an eye to uncovering any flaws, lacks or inequalities. That is a serious challenge to an attitude of contentment.
If I’m content, will I want to improve? What motivates me to strive to grow in faith and spiritual maturity if I am content with the status quo?
Paul’s advice seems not only contrary to modern philosophy, but to the rest of the Bible’s teachings of lifelong growth in closeness to Christ.
I believe any apparent conflict comes from confusing contentment with complacency.
To be complacent is to be self-satisfied.
If we accept God’s omnipotence, omniscience, righteousness and love, as set forth in Scripture, then we must accept that whatever circumstance or situation we meet in life has been filtered through his will. He has allowed it for our good and his glory.
Under the circumstances, how can I not be content?