Contentment is not something you simply obtain.
You do not wake up one day and find that you are suddenly content. Neither do you just get old enough and that makes you content. Contentment is something that is learned.
Paul said, “…for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” (Phil. 4:11). Paul admits that he had to learn contentment. It was not one of his personality traits, nor was it a special ability that he had. It was something that he had to learn from the time he was very young until the day that he wrote these words to the Philippians.
As a young man, Paul sought his fortune and fame, as do other young men. He thought he found it in the profession of a Pharisee. As a young Pharisee during the time of the first persecution of Christians, he excelled. He was poised for greatness because he was in on the movement from the “ground floor.” He had been recognized for his zeal and was commissioned to root out and destroy Christians wherever he could. But even though he made a name for himself, he still found no contentment.
He found no contentment when he finally met Jesus face to face on the road to Damascus, but this is where his lessons in contentment began. He was blinded after the encounter and did not know if he would ever get his sight back. He needed to learn to accept his blindness. He could either have felt pity on himself, or make use of his life as he could. But God had another plan. And so the trials, troubles, sufferings and persecutions began until one day, in a letter to his friends, he writes, “…I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”
Contentment begins with knowing God (Matt. 6:31-34.) A person will never be content living in this world if they do not first learn how to live a Godly life. If you come to the point in your relationship with God that you seek Him first, then you learn how to live Godly. But it doesn’t stop right there. You must learn not only how to seek Him first, but to depend on His love for you; that you will be okay under His leadership, love and care. In short, you must learn not only how to seek God first, but to give Him your problems and stop worrying over them; depend on Him being bigger than any problem you could ever have. These are hard lessons to learn. Oh, it is not so hard to take our troubles to God, but it is difficult for us to leave them with Him. We show this by worrying about our troubles. You can already see how to live a stress free, content life when you have nothing to worry about anymore.
Contentment benefits living in this world (1 Tim. 6:6-9). We must understand that we absolutely own nothing. We must have the higher view of our life; that we brought nothing into this world, and when we go, we will take nothing out. Even our legacy is not in our hands, it is in the hands of those left behind. It is a false understanding to think you have made a difference in the world because any difference you made or not, is in the hands of those you leave it with. It is not under your control. We are on a pilgrimage that is preparing us for heaven. Yes, God can miraculously make us prepared for entrance to heaven when the time comes, but in His infinite wisdom, He has seen fit to teach us about our upcoming life in heaven now. The sooner we see that life does not surround ambitions of the world, the sooner we will live a content life. This way, we can go to our jobs and places of work with joy and not stress. In fact, we can be happy all day long because we realize that the things now trivial, were once big things to us. You can easily see how contentment is learned by just having the proper perspective on life in general.
Contentment comes from seeking first a life with Jesus. (Heb. 13:5-6) It comes by understanding that He means what He says and says what He means. He says, “…I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” You cannot get any more content in life than to live a life understanding that the one who holds you in His arms is the Lord Jesus Christ, and He won’t drop you or let go. Babies trust their mothers all the way up to the time that mommy makes them do something that they don’t like. They are content in their mothers arms until mommy does something that they don’t like. It may be giving a bath, or changing a diaper, but whatever it is, this is where the trust is lost. When they realize that mommy just did something for their overall good, even though it was uncomfortable for a spell, then the trust is returned. The baby learns how to trust their mommy. Likewise, Christians should learn how to learn contentment by growing up in the Lord; communing with Him and learning how to trust Him. You can easily see that the closer and more often you are with the Lord, the easier it is to be content.
So Paul says that he had to learn contentment. He is no different than any other man. We all must learn how to be content. Is your life troubled? Do you feel so overwhelmed that you think you need to see a counselor to help you get your life back on track? Do you have the tendency to turn to drinking or drugs to give you peace? Then you are seeking an instant, microwave portion of contentment, but it does not exist. You must learn how to be content. God will make sure that, one way or another, you will learn how to be content with Him. The only question is: just how much tribulation, trials or suffering you must go through to learn contentment.