On Being Content
Simple Lessons From A Not-So-Simple Man
© Lee Wise 2003 All rights reserved 


Philippians 4:11-13 

"I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want... I can do everything through him who 
gives me strength."


I'm not sure *exactly* what kind of man Paul was. I know we could term him dedicated, passionate, a writer, committed, focused, in love with life and his Savior. 

I don't believe, however, I would refer to him as a simple,
easily understood man. At least we know a portion of his 
writings were not. Peter felt that way -- see 2 Peter 


Paul did write a few thoughts that, while understandable
and straightforward, are not *easy* when you and I attempt to put them into practice. 

His thoughts on contentment fit into this last category.


While attempting to discover Paul's "secret" to contentment, I wrote the following:

"The secret of contentment is two-fold: Confidence in 
Christ plus commitment to Christ = Contentment."

I see the basic themes of commitment and confidence 
traveling together as a unit on the highways of Paul's mind. 

Think about it: the life of Paul resembled a series of 
personal earthquakes. 

He would be "fine" for short while and then experience the 
breakup of the soil under his feet: beatings, near death
experiences, on the run, being shipwrecked. 

Name any level of personal suffering and Paul would be 
able to identify with you. 

Yet from the depth of his soul you can almost *feel* him
saying throughout the many and varied experiences of his

"I know Jesus."
"I love and am committed to Jesus."
"I trust Jesus with all my heart." 


That's the simple thinking side of Paul. 

If I were to open and read a note addressed to me by "the
man himself" -- while enjoying a great tasting espresso in
the quiet morning hours of my own home -- I imagine I would find myself paying close attention to words similar to

"Lee, you gotta get this. Don't let this one slide by
you, my friend. 

Ultimate contentment begins and ends with two words:
commitment and confidence. 

You need to follow Jesus, to be committed to Him. 
That's basic. 

Then you must follow that up with confidence. I mean
trust, Lee. Trust Him in everything and with
everything. You won't understand it all. Good night,
I sure didn't grin! 

Keep working on those two concepts and you will be
on track for living with a growing measure of 
contentment in your life.

Hang in there. It's worth it. Our mutual friend,
Jesus, said so and I've found it to be true.

See you soon. 


P.S. Did I tell ya it's really neat up here?!"


I also crafted these additional "life equations" while 
reflecting on Paul's admonition:


"Self confidence without Christ minus commitment to 
Christ = Carnality"

Decreased Influence...

"Commitment to Christ minus confidence in Christ = 
Decreased Influence" 

As you reflect on these statements, please keep in mind the following comments: 

1. These "equations" do not have rigid lines. By way
of example, if I'm struggling with commitment to
Christ and having confidence in Him at the same 
time, that doesn't automatically mean I'm carnal
(at least in my mind).


If it is a pattern that describes my life: i.e. a
kind of self-absorbed confidence with little or no
looking to Jesus for His wisdom and strength --
coupled with an on-going lack of commitment to Him
in everyday life -- I believe I could safely say
I'm at least struggling in my walk with Christ. 

2. Also, my being committed to Christ while learning 
to trust Him more and more each day is what I would 
term normal Christian living. 

Having said that, however...

It also seems to me that the more I learn to trust
Him for all aspects of my life the more I am able
to influence people in a positive manner. There 
are, most certainly, exceptions to what I have 
just said. Sometimes the Lord steps in and "just
blesses." We have all experienced His working in
this way -- Praise Him! 

I'll leave you to decide how much -- if at all -- you accept
these last two comments as true. 

In my way of thinking they are corollary statements to the
basic "formula" for contentment I have dealt with in this
short article. 


I believe it is always good for us to ask ourselves 
good questions. Maybe ones like these:

"Am I striving to trust Jesus in all things?"

"Do I need to ask the Lord to strengthen my heart so
that my commitment level keeps growing?" 

"Do I notice on-going patterns of little trust plus
little commitment to Jesus? If so, is a measure of
personal repentance necessary?" 


Paul's comments are simple, yet profound. May the Jesus we
serve give each of us the grace to say: 

"By the power of Jesus Christ
I am learning to be content."

Yours for many hope-filled days in Jesus,

(John 15:16) 

Lee is a seminary administrator, has a part-time business 
at home, and writes two motivational ezines: "A Beautiful
Moment In Time" and "Hope For Daily Living." 
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