Monday’s Column: Dale Mail
Nothing makes a problem bigger like feeling discontent.
Nothing makes the future dimmer like being discontent.
Nothing buys you happiness, no matter the money spent.
It breeds greed and disappointment, and above all— the discontent.
According to Psych Central, discontentment leads to some unhealthy ways of coping with anxiety and depression. It can lead us on a never ending chase of those fleeting and euphoric moments which always leave one feeling empty inside.
Paul would pen the words, “…I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content” (Phil. 4:11b).
He writes to the church at Philippi, from prison. Paul was no stranger to being wrongly charged as a criminal. He spent several nights behind bars throughout his life, but from Philippians 1:20 he seems to know that his time on earth is coming to an end.
The Romans were notorious for finding the most creative ways of torturing their victims before their final execution and Paul preaches the gospel of a Man who was crucified for His ministry. The agonizing thoughts of a similar death had to have entered into the apostle’s mind. Though the details of his anxieties are not recorded, what is recorded is the awe-inspiring language he uses to describe the kind of faith he owns. He is unafraid of death; he even seems to welcome it!
In the gloom of a prison cell where there was no doubt a melancholy atmosphere about him, Paul’s mind is thinking on those things which are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, and commendable. This mindset has led him to be content and at peace. His contentment remained the same regardless of the bleak outside circumstances.
His life teaches us three basic truths about contentment:
- Anyone can be content through anything— at any time.
- Contentment is a recognized and willful dependence on God.
- It is something that has to be LEARNED (4:11).
Being a prisoner of Rome had some negative social stigmas, just as it does today. Timothy even struggled with Paul’s imprisonment, so what made the church at Philippi listen to his letter from behind bars? Paul’s unshakable faith and commitment to the work of Christ had to play a part in inspiring them. A lifestyle that can offer hope and peace that nobody and nothing can take from us— speaks for itself. Paul demonstrates the power of Christ at work in him to the church at Philippi, and to every congregation that’s ever existed since then.
We have everything we need but don’t deserve because of Jesus— let’s be content.