The Gift of CONTENTMENT

Paul learned contentment and so can we as we begin to recognize it is always about our dependence on Christ and never about our circumstances.

Have you ever had an epiphany?

Periodically I spend the day at the church. (The practice began when we lived forty minutes away from our church, so I went with Scott on Wednesdays so we didn’t have two cars there.)  One of our first Wednesdays at First Baptist, I walked up a few flights of stairs (and thought how I really needed to exercise more) and bounced into the room where about twenty women of all ages (college through senior adults) were doing my friend Katie Orr‘s study, Everyday Peace.

I asked their teacher if it would be okay for me to say a little something and she said I could.  So, in all my bouncy Teri Lynne-ness, I told them how excited I was for them to be doing that study and how precious Katie and her heart for women in the Word is to me.  I shared that I had told her they were doing the study and how it had encouraged her to know that.  Before I left, I prayed for them and thanked them again for welcoming me and my family to the First Baptist family.

Paul learned contentment and so can we as we begin to recognize it is always about our dependence on Christ and never about our circumstances.

The Gift of CONTENTMENT

You’re thinking, “Okay, TL, that’s great. But what about that epiphany?”  Well, I’m getting there … stay with me.

I write about contentment a lot. I mean, A LOT. I’ve written at least fifty posts on this topic in the past seven years. That’s getting really close to averaging once a month.

It’s been said we write what we know. But in this case, nothing could be farther from the truth.

I struggle hard with contentment (and with comparison and competition … they all work together, I’ve learned). Maybe you do too? If so, today’s post is for you!

OBSERVE

… for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I find myself. I know both how to make do with little, and I know how to make do with a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of contentment — whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need.  I am able to do all things through him who strengthens me.  Philippians 4:11-13

Paul is writing to the church he loves so much in Philippi and thanking them for their generosity toward him. But after he thanks them, he tells them something about himself. And in the telling, he gives us some important truths about contentment.

Contentment is learned. Paul said he had learned to be content. It didn’t come naturally to him … and it won’t usually come naturally to us. Our flesh will always want more, better. But we can learn just as Paul did.

Learning contentment takes time. Here’s where I’ve had the hardest time. For years I’ve wanted God to make me content. Do you see the difference there? I didn’t really want to learn contentment … I didn’t want to go through the making do with a little and a lot part. I just wanted God to change my heart instantly so I didn’t have to wrestle through the seasons of abundance and need. But learning contentment is a huge part of the sanctification process. And it will take time — in fact, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say it will take our whole lives.

Paul learned contentment and so can we as we begin to recognize it is always about our dependence on Christ and never about our circumstances.

Contentment is about dependence not circumstance. This is where my epiphany comes back into the conversation.  See, we think of Philippians 4:13 as a stand alone verse, a mantra for doing. But the truth is, this verse is Paul’s great revelation, his own epiphany — we can only learn contentment when we understand our desperate need for Christ transcends any of our circumstances.

RESPOND

Here’s my challenge to you — ask God to teach you to learn contentment.

Maybe you’ve struggled with comparison or competition.  Maybe you feel like you’re not smart enough or godly enough or quiet enough or outgoing enough or whatever enough.

Or maybe your struggle is more internal — you need to do it all, to be the best, to be perfect.

And maybe your struggle is something else entirely.  It really doesn’t matter. Because the truth is the same for all of us — contentment can only be found in Christ.

Paul learned contentment and so can we as we begin to recognize it is always about our dependence on Christ and never about our circumstances.

REFLECT

Lord, it’s the worst to know we ought to be content but know just as strongly that we aren’t. Will you speak peace into our hearts on this matter? Will you help us see that contentment is learned … and the biggest part is about relying on you. Help us see your hand in our lives, to know you are at work in all things for our good and for your glory.  Give us courage to lay down our pursuit of accomplishment and accolades and instead wear your mantle of contentment and peace.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Contentment comes through dependence on Christ not fulfillment in circumstances. #lopsidedliving Click To Tweet

You see, for years (YEARS!!!), I’ve been trying to find contentment by conforming myself to some imaginary idea of what I thought I was supposed to be.  I’ve compared myself to others and competed for affection, attention, and affirmation. But last night, as we drove home in the dark, I told Scott I’d never felt more myself than I did in that little upstairs room at First Baptist Church in Florence, AL.

In that moment, full of all the energy and enthusiasm I have for women and for the Word, I was leaning into the person God made me. I wasn’t trying to fill a spot or make myself smaller or bigger.  I was just me. And it was the sweetest peace I’ve ever known. That’s contentment, y’all. And I want to learn more and more about it!

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RECOMMENDED RESOURCE

Earlier this year, my friend Sandra (whose book recommendations I always heed) said she thought I would love Humble Roots: How Humility Grounds and Nourishes Your Soul by Hannah Anderson.  As always, she was right.  This book has become a faithful companion for me and I believe it can become a thoughtful guide for you too.  Here’s a taste of why:

… our experience will always feel like it is enough. Our insight will always seem accurate because we simply cannot know what we don’t know. A fool’s confidence in her own perspective is why she doesn’t receive instruction—from God or from other people. She doesn’t receive instruction because she doesn’t believe she needs it. She’s not intentionally rejecting insight. She’s not intentionally embracing ignorance. She just thinks she’s fine.  She’s satisfied with her own mind.

Humility, on the other hand, predisposes us to believe that we always have something to learn. (p. 121)

Order HUMBLE ROOTS {affiliate link}

Thank you for joining me as we choose SEEING THE GIFTS OF GOD IN EVERY DAY LIFE.  If you miss any of the posts in this series you can find them indexed here

xoxo,

Teri Lynne

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