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Paul’s Secrets to Learning Contentment

Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.
–1 Timothy 6:17

Contentment means being at peace with the unchangeable circumstances, choices, and mistakes that shape our destiny. In Philippians 4:11-13, the apostle Paul wrote, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Contentment doesn’t come naturally. It’s something we have to learn.

How do you learn how to be content with what God has given you? Let me share three secrets for learning contentment. First, compare yourself to God’s standard of success rather than human standards of success. Before Paul met Christ, he measured his success in terms of other people. But the moment he met Jesus Christ, that standard changed. He said in Philippians 3:7, “Whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.”

Second, to experience satisfaction, trust in God’s sovereign plan for your life. Before you drew your first breath, your physical makeup, your emotional makeup, your DNA–all those things were predetermined by God. In Psalm 139, David said, “For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. . . . And in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them” (vv. 13-14, 16). Notice in verse 16, he said every day of your life was in God’s book before you lived one of them. That means your choice of a mate, your vocation–everything has already been recorded in God’s book. Do you know God’s sovereignty over your life extends to your economic status? We think if we have money, it is because of our ingenuity or hard work. No, it’s all because of the graciousness of God. Job 34:19 says that God “shows no partiality to princes nor regards the rich above the poor, for they all are the work of His hands.” Even our economic status is a part of God’s plan.

Finally, a key to contentment is learning to manage your expectations. In 1 Timothy 6:7-8, Paul said, “We have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.” Those are powerful words. If we know where our next meal is coming from, if we have a place to sleep, you and I should be satisfied. Anything we have above that is purely by the grace of God.

How do you respond to the inevitable circumstance of other people having more than you have? If you respond with dissatisfaction, with covetousness, it is going to lead to misery and eventually to sin in your life. You can choose that response, or you can choose to be content.


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Choosing Contentment over Comparison” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2019.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.


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