The Secret of Being Content
No matter how much or how little you have, financial freedom starts in your heart.
No matter how much you have or how much you need, abundance and lack aren’t matters of the pocketbook. They’re matters of the heart. And being content is the secret to everything.
It’s always important to keep a good accounting of our finances. But accounting is only useful for tracking things that can be, well, counted. And the most important things in life are heart conditions and attitudes that can’t be counted at all.
The most important things in life are heart conditions and attitudes that can’t be counted.
We live in a highly materialist world. And if we’re not careful, it’s easy to allow money to make slaves of us and rob us of God’s destiny for our lives. To guard ourselves from these pitfalls, it’s critical that we practice the secret of being content.
Paul’s Insight on Being Content
This secret comes straight from the Bible. In Phil. 4:11-13, the apostle Paul is thanking the Philippians for sending gifts to help with the financial needs of his ministry. And though the gifts have been helpful to him, Paul doesn’t depend on money to make him happy:
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.
Paul’s point may seem simple, but it’s actually profound. Through both wealth and poverty, Paul discovered a secret that transcends money and circumstances. He learned the secret of being content.
Contentment in Your Life
Compare Paul’s position to circumstances that you have encountered in your own life. Say you get a big bonus at work, or find a wad of $20 bills in the pocket of a coat that you haven’t worn since last winter. You’re most likely going to be happy with your windfall. Rf the amount is big enough, your happiness may border on jubilation.
Now, reverse the situation: A large, unexpected expense has come from nowhere to wipe out your savings. You probably feel angry, frustrated or discouraged. That’s normal. Wealth and financial gain can give us feelings of euphoria, while poverty and loss make us feel terrible.
It’s easy to experience life through the ups and downs of these emotions. In times of plenty, you will feel amazing; in times of lack, you will despair. But although this is normal, it’s a pretty rotten way to live. When the quality of your life and the attitude of your heart are determined by the amount of finances that you do or don’t have, you’re a slave to money.
Contentment Trumps Circumstances
Paul is not all that different from you or me. He had a lot of experiences in his life, and at the time he wrote this letter, he had seen more difficulty than most of us will ever experience. But financial circumstances didn’t control his mood or attitude. Because he discovered a secret: Whether you have a lot or a little, being content does more for your quality of life than money ever could.
Contentment lives in a heart full of God’s love and a will that relies on His strength.
Given an opportunity, money will try to control your heart and mood by controlling your circumstances. But our hearts aren’t meant to be controlled by money. They’re meant to be filled with the joy of the Lord.
If you count on wealth for satisfaction, your entire life’s experience will be an unfulfilling series of peaks and valleys. But if you look to the Lord for your satisfaction, there’s nothing that money can do to change your heart.
I’ll admit that I find contentment easy to talk about and hard to practice. But Paul also shares the key to practicing a lifestyle of contentment. It’s not something that he could do alone in his own flesh. Instead, he says, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
Paul’s contentment didn’t come from his circumstances. He had it in spite of his circumstances. True contentment lives in a heart full of God’s love and a will that relies on His strength. Money comes and goes in life, but those things never do.
Learn to let God fill your heart, and you’ll begin to walk in contentment too.
Photo by Kaylan Chakravarthy. Used under Creative Commons License.