When the apostle Paul says, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13), guess what he has in mind? He is not thinking about speaking to big crowds and persuading thousands. He is not thinking about overcoming big obstacles to complete important projects. He is speaking about contentment. “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need” (Philippians 4:11-12).
In discussing his own infirmities and challenges, Paul confesses, “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10). He tells Timothy, “But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content” (1 Timothy 6:8).
Paul is in good company. John the Baptizer exhorts the crowds within his hearing, “Bear fruit in keeping with repentance” (Luke 3:8). Some soldiers wanted to know what this meant for them. John’s answer startles us. “Be content with your wages” (Luke 3:14). In many circles in our day, we are taught just the opposite.
But the Tenth Commandment, “You shall not covet” (Exodus 20:17), requires contentment. Hebrews 13:5 makes the connection. “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have.” This commandment sums up all the rest.
Are you content with Jesus Christ as your only God? “You shall have no other gods before Me.” Are you content with His image portrayed for you in Scripture? “You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.” Are you content without swearing and slang using God’s Name? “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.” Are you content with the requirements of the Lord’s Day? “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.”
Are you content in all the relationship of life, at home, at work, at school, and at church? “Honor your father and your mother.” Are you content with always seeking to preserve your life and the life of others including those within the womb? “You shall not murder.” Are you content with and do you find your satisfaction with your spouse? “You shall not commit adultery.” Are you content with the physical property you now possess? “You shall not steal.” Are you content to always speak the truth in love? “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” To sum up, are you content with life? “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
Although the Ten Commandments are the standard for godliness, following them by rote or doing them entirely out of a sense of duty is insufficient. Jesus condemns proper outward conduct without inner conviction as hypocrisy (Mark 7:6). However, as the apostle Paul reminds us, “Godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment” (1Timothy 6:6).
In the end, true contentment comes from God and not from things. “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’” (Hebrews 13:5).