The apostle Paul had it all: pedigree, position, and power. Possessions often accompany such a person as well. Yet, Paul knew better. He sought to destroy the very movement (Christianity) that offered what his soul longed for: contentment. He devoted his life to the pursuit and destruction of those who followed Jesus.
However, a dramatic confrontation on the Damascus Road caused a major conversion causing Paul to finally find his contentment. After years of an anger that literally drove him, he finally found a contented rest for his soul. The good news of Jesus Christ completely changed Paul from a bitter and discontented man into a loving and gracious man.
In Philippians he wrote,
“I have learned to be content in 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 this through Him who gives me strength.”
Putting it another way, he’s saying that contentment has nothing to do with our situation but with what we are trusting in.
He found peace—the ultimate contentment—in Christ. These words, written by a man who had been imprisoned, severely beaten, stoned, flogged, shipwrecked, and pursued by his enemies. Despite all of that, one of the major themes throughout Paul’s letters is joy. How it that possible? He did not look around at the world, or its standards, for his happiness. Rather, he looked to Christ and found deep and abiding joy, which surpassed any circumstances. His discontentment is resolved by the One who brings a peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7).
Our contentment can only be found in the Lord. Not Christ ‘and’, just Christ. He is enough. Paul tells us that Jesus is the One who gives us strength in all circumstances. When we look to Him, the temptations of the world, the draw of more stuff, loses its appeal. Nothing compares.
There is an old hymn that isn’t sung much anymore that I just love, it goes like this:
He is my everything,
He is my all,
He is my everything,
Both great and small.
He gave His life for me.
Made everything new.
He is my everything.
Now how about you?
Let’s practice teaching our children to pursue Him before seeking more stuff. I pray our children would know the gift of contentment this Christmas season—not because they receive everything on their list, but because He gave His life on the cross and rose to live again. May our discontentment be healed as we allow Him to be enough.