I don’t know what’s going on around the world, but I know America is filled with discontent.
You can see it on every hand. We feel that we’ve been left out or forgotten. We live with anxiety and concern about the future. We live with envy and jealousy of others.
While we struggle in all of these ways, we live in the most prosperous land ever. For the most part we experience unparalleled freedoms.
Isn’t it amazing that we learn about living in contentment from a man who lived his last years in prison and finally was executed because of the gospel of Jesus Christ?
As Paul wrote to the church at Philippi, he could say, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.“ He could say, I know what it is to be without and I know what it is to have plenty. Paul said, “I have learned to be content.“
How did he learn to be content, and how can we learn it as well?
While Paul did not disclose the exact way of his being content, he does tell us some things that can help us immensely. What should we do to learn contentment?
First, let every day and every experience be your teacher. When Paul says I have learned, he meant “I have learned by experience.” His many trials (2 Corinthians 11:22–29) had taught him in ways that an easy life would never have afforded.
When he wrote to the church at Rome, he talked about exulting in his afflictions. He knew that trials brought on perseverance, perseverance proven character, and proven character hope. He assured them that hope does not disappoint (R0mans 5:1-6).
Second, practice thankfulness. Many people believe that thankfulness was the occasion for writing the letter to the Philippians. They had ministered to his need, and he wanted to send them a thank you letter.
Practicing thankfulness accomplishes things in our lives that nothing else can do. We need to hear ourselves saying “thank you.” When we go out of our way to be grateful, we grow in contentment as well.
Third, minimize complaining. Even though Paul suffered much more than a normal person, you never found him complaining. Instead, you found Paul giving thanks in all things.
It’s an axiom: you will become what you repeatedly do. If we complain incessantly, we become whiners. If we give thanks even for the very small things, we become grateful people.
Do all of these together and you become a person who can say, “I have learned the secret of being content.”