Have you allowed circumstances to rob you of happiness and satisfaction? I’m certainly guilty! Discontent “robs you of your years. Then before you know it, you’ve missed out on the joys in the journey, the growth that comes from battling through the difficulties, the sweet and savory experience of creating the memories.” (Priscilla Shirer, Resolution for Women)
We learned last week that praise and thanksgiving can ward off discontent. But the apostle Paul teaches us so much more than that:
Philippians 4:11 “Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstance I am.”
Contentment can be learned
Paul learned to be content. What? I can learn this? Tell me how, please!
The original Greek for the word learned is manthano (Strong’s 3129). Stay with me here…I promise not to go too geeky-Greeky on you. Manthano means to learn from experience, with the idea of doing habitually; to become accustomed to something.
When I was in high school, I played flute. I was an okay player, basically kind of ordinary and mediocre. Until the summer I decided to practice every day. Over and over I played the scales, and eventually my fingers knew by habit which keys to press.
I learned the scales, and I practiced until they became habit. I learned by being disciplined and just doing.
“To learn, you must love discipline; it is stupid to hate correction.” Proverbs 12:1
Contentment must be practiced
The same is true of contentment: once learned, it must be practiced. Each time the monster of misery rears his ugly head, we need to make the choice to be content in our situation. Remember the commercial from a few years back? This is the same principle: Just do it.
If anyone had a reason to be discontent, it was the apostle Paul. He was beaten, pelted with stones, shipwrecked and imprisoned. He learned to be content, no matter the circumstance. He practiced over and over until it became a habit.
Paul knew that Christ would provide for his every need.
“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.” 2 Corinthians 9:5
Christ will supply abundantly more that we ask or need. Over and over again, when the seed of discontent starts to grow, look around to see all that God has supplied, and be content. Over and over…until it is a habit.
Until next week,
Father, I want to learn contentment. Strengthen me by the power of Your Holy Spirit, to practice being content in You and You alone. In Jesus powerful name, Amen