4:11 “Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be [b]content in whatever circumstances I am.”
Philippians 4:11 (NASB)
A good friend had just returned from playing in his first NFL Pro Bowl, a coveted achievement so early in his career. When I asked him to describe the experience he said, “It was a career highlight, but by the time I settled into my seat for the flight home, it was over. Is that all there is to it?”
Sometimes we expect contentment by escaping from negative circumstances. Like my friend, we also expect contentment by gaining positive circumstances. Most of us have our sights on Pro Bowl-type awards or experiences in life, and we expect them to take us to a new level of sustained contentment.
Whether it is a win, an award or a personal breakthrough, we have high hopes for the coveted things we chase. They offer significance, respect and reputation. The things that have cost us time and energy usually do provide a measure of temporary joy and fulfillment.
The word “content” in today’s verse means “self-sufficient.” It refers to a state of mind that does not need other things to make us feel complete, at peace or whole. That can only be found in a relationship with Jesus.
But here is the kicker — it is something we must learn as we grow in this relationship with God. Like our Pro Bowler, God allows us to experience things that can only give temporary joy or fulfillment. Each time we experience these short-lived emotions, we learn again that only He can offer lasting contentment.
What will it take to break free of looking to circumstances to gain peace, joy or fulfillment? Lack of contentment is a good teacher. It should drive us to continue to make Jesus the greater factor in contentment than any of our circumstances.