“…I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.”
Philippians 4:11 NLT
The apostle Paul was writing from prison where he was facing possible execution, and yet Philippians was his most joy-filled letter. He’s writing to the believer (who would have been outside of prison) and he’s encouraging them to rejoice in the Lord always! We may not have reason to rejoice in our circumstances but we always have reason to rejoice in the Lord. One of the secrets to Paul’s happiness was that he had learned to be content with what he had. If we can learn to be content with what we have, we will also learn the secret to true joy and happiness.
“I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.”
Philippians 4:12 NLT
You’ll never be happy if you’re always focused on what you don’t have – that will only stir up dissatisfaction in you. You’ll never be satisfied. Yes, you may not have everything you need or want right now, but you have got more than most people. Paul was content and happy in prison, and yet today many Christians are depressed while living in luxury. For many people it’s because we’re constantly focused on what we don’t have. We say that we’ll be happy if we get a spouse, a house, a car or a job we like. Then we get it and when the novelty wears off, we become familiar with it and we start becoming dissatisfied. Then we start thinking that if we had a newer, better spouse, house, car or job, then we’d be happy. But it doesn’t work. Happiness doesn’t come from stuff and circumstances; it flows from within you because of your relationship with Jesus.
Dissatisfaction is often a tool that the devil uses to lead us into unhappiness and even sin. If you want to be happy and enjoy your life, you need to learn to be content. It won’t happen by accident; it’s a choice which you will have to make. Contentment is the result of choosing to focus on what you have and being thankful for it. Discontentment is the result of focusing on what you don’t have and wishing you had it. Now there is a healthy place for discontentment in that you should want to experience more of what God has for you, and you should be pressing on to take hold of all that He has for you, but you can be happy while doing that. You just need to choose to focus on what you do have, enjoy it and be thankful for it.
“Stay away from the love of money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, “I will never, never fail you nor forsake you.”
Hebrews 13:5 TLB
It’s not wrong to have money. If you think it is wrong to have money then you’re welcome to give me all your money! It’s wrong to love money so much that you seek after money and make decisions based on money. Jesus said that we can’t serve God and money (Matthew 6:24). If we seek after money we won’t get God, but if we seek after God, money (and all that we need) will be provided for us (Matthew 6:33). As long as you’re focused on what you don’t have, and as long as you’re stirring up the desire for something you don’t have, you’re going to be a lover of money (whether you have money or not). You need to be satisfied with what you have. Even if you think that you don’t really have anything, you can focus on the fact that you have God. He promised to never leave you nor forsake you. If you have God, you have everything. Hebrews 13:6 goes on to say that because God is with us we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper!” You can be content knowing that God is with you and He is your helper. That should be enough to make you the happiest person around! It doesn’t matter what comes your way: God is with you and He is your helper!