vv 11-12 I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. 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.
Paul was able to point to his own experience of contentment in order to reinforce the message we read yesterday in his letter to Timothy. He did not simply point out what was a godly life of contentment, he was able to demonstrate it in his own experience. It was a straightforward example of practising what he preached.
There have been sad examples in recent years where Christian leaders have used their position to acquire wealth and ‘stuff’, and have lived a grand lifestyle. Their congregations, often relatively poor, have seen through them in spite of their claims that ‘God gave me this stuff as I worked for him.’ An acquisitive leader might be in a dangerous position when it comes to living a godly and contented lifestyle.
But let’s not leave the issue as one that only concerns leaders, it touches each one of us. I suspect that contentment lies at the root of many disputes and anxieties in society. It is not always easy to distinguish between wholesome ambition to get on in life, get a better job, better house etc, and plain discontentment with present circumstances. It is harder still when everybody around us seems to be getting on better than we are. This kind of ‘comparison’ mentality – especially evident on Social Media – can have a very damaging impact on mental health and our relationship with God. ‘How come God seems to bless others with stuff, but not me?’ It leads us to question our own value as well as God’s faithfulness to us.
Learning and practising contentment, with thanksgiving, is a vital aspect of our Christian life and experience. How will you make progress in that direction this week?