I have heard it taught before that we are to be content with our relationship with Jesus and discontent at the same time. Is this truly a Both/And? Or a misapplied text? Or a Paradox of Holy Contentment?
As I read and re-read our main text this morning, I am more and more convinced that this is not a classic Both/And, but more so a misapplied text or a Holy Paradox. Let’s explore this very, very briefly.
In Phil. 3:10ff, the apostle Paul seems to express an honest, humble assessment of his Holy passion—a passion that is not content with what is, but with what will be. Then he expresses his contentment in this passage (Phil. 4:11-13), but is he not referring to his physical needs here and not so much his spiritual, Holy passion? And then, if this is physcial, does v. 13 only apply to physical realities (i.e., the Lord empowers me when I have a lot or have very little); or does this spill over into the spiritual?
Do we resolve this paradox by suggesting that we are to have a Holy passionate discontent for our current spiritual condition (including our relationship with Jesus), but a humble contentment with our physical accoutrements—since they come and go?
Your thoughts? How important is contentment to you? Can we ever be content? Ought we to be content? Ah, perhaps a paradox of Holy contentment?
Main Text— Philippians 4:11–13 (NIV)— 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. 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. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Additional Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts
Then some soldiers asked [John the Baptizer], “And what should we do?” He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.” —Luke 3:14 (NIV84)
Then, turning to his disciples, Jesus said, “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food to eat or enough clothes to wear. For life is more than food, and your body more than clothing.”—Lk 12:22–23 (NLT)
But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.—1 Timothy 6:6–8 (NIV84)
Heavenly Father, as You teach me the lessons of contentment, may I realize all the more that Jesus is more than enough. In His Name. Amen