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sheep graze - contentment


What words of wisdom Paul speaks to the Philippians in chapter 4, verses 12-14 when talking about  his “contentment”  (even though he doesn’t use that particular word).  Paul, writing from prison, has learned to be at peace, to be satisfied, to be content, with what  is -- whatever the circumstances of his life.

This is not to say that situations of injustice, abuse, or immorality should not be challenged, or that we should not attempt to correct and right what is wrong.  Not at all.  Nor is it to say that we should not try to improve ourselves.

Paul’s words deal, I think, with an attitude or outlook on life: that of being able to be satisfied, to be content, to be at peace with what is “now.” 

We live in a world that capitalizes on discontent – where advertising promises happiness if only we would buy _______.  We think, if only I had _________, if only this person, this situation was different, then I would be satisfied, then I would be happy.

Contentment dispenses with “if onlys” and finds, as did Paul, the ability to be at peace in whatever the situation or circumstance of his life because of the strength that God gives him in Christ.  The key is to focus not on the external situation, whether it be abundance or need, but on Christ and the strength, the peace, that He alone can give. It calls us to trust in God’s providential care for us, and with Paul, to know that “I can do all things,” be content and at peace in all things, “through him who strengthens me.”