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I am Content.

Monday, October 5, 2009

by Dr. Paul Chappell

"But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need."

Philippians 4:10-12

Content makes poor men rich; discontent makes rich men poor.-Benjamin Franklin

John Bunyan, author of Pilgrim's Progress (an allegorical tale of the Christian life), lived a very lowly life. Although his book had sold well (and continues to do so today), and his popularity and notoriety grew, Bunyan continued to spend his time preaching God's Word and focusing his efforts on God's work. While some expected him to use his earnings to become one of England's elite, he realized his position and was content to live just as he always had. Here's what he had to say about his decision:

He that is down needs fear no fall;
He that is low, no pride;
He that is humble, ever shall
Have God to be his guide.
I am content with what I have,
Little be it, or much;
And, Lord, contentment still I crave,
Because Thou savest such.

John Bunyan had learned that joy comes, not from possessions or social status, but through position in God. He was content with being a child of God. It didn't matter if he was a well-known author, or an imprisoned pastor, John Bunyan was content.

Contentment is not a character trait many parents teach their children in our world. Most people push to become better, have more, and climb the ladder of success. While there is nothing wrong with striving to be better (God encourages us to do our best in everything), allowing a desire for possessions or a certain status to consume us will keep us from leading a content life.

Philippians 4 shows us Paul's view of contentment. Paul made many trips to visit the churches of the first century. Because of his life of constant traveling, he had few possessions, but as he states in our verses, "for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content."

Wherever Paul was, whatever was going on in his life, he was content in knowing God was in control. This statement has deeper meaning, knowing what Paul faced. Paul didn't lead an easy life. He was constantly in and out of prison for the sake of the Gospel, facing persecution or beatings, and standing before people who mocked his faith. Yet Paul was content.

How content are you? Are you content in what you have or do you spend time wishing to have more? God desires that you would be content with where God has placed you and with what He has given you. God has given you exactly what you need to accomplish His will for your life. Your discontentment is you telling God that He doesn't know how much you need or where you need to be.

Just as God provided for Paul's every need, God will provide for you as well. The future might look uncertain and you might not be able to see how ends will meet, but be content knowing that your Heavenly Father owns the cattle on a thousand hills. God knows where you are and what you have, and He desires you to contentedly trust Him with your future.

To learn more about the ministries of Lancaster Baptist Church and Pastor Chappell, please visit lancasterbaptist.org, paulchappell.com, or follow him on twitter.

Daily Bible Reading
Isaiah 23-25 o Philippians 1