2007-03-02 - Real Learning Found in Contentment
Philippians 4:11, "For I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am."
Paul was a learned man. Before he came to Christ he excelled in Judaism above many on the same path as him. However, in Christ he had learned more than all his worldly learning could teach him. In Christ he had learned contentment. I am not about to disparage those who have great learning. I respect them. But contentment is something that is hard to learn in a classroom. Paul had learned it, and he was far better for it.
I would put contentment above all the learning that Harvard or Yale can offer. If you have learned to be content, you have learned more than many, probably most, of those who can put lots of letters after their name. To learn to be content is the highest degree of learning one can obtain. I would respect the name; John Smith, Content --more than I would John Smith, Ph. D.. (The word content even has more letters in it.) Contentment is the one thing that nothing can assault. Contentment is that from which you can take nothing from, nor add anything unto. Contentment is that thing that we should seek to be to be our defining characteristic. If we can say, irrespective of circumstances, that by the grace of God, we are content in all things, we have reached a high level of learning in this life.
Contentment is something that does not grow in us naturally. We struggle against it, but it is worthy of being pursued. We ought to cultivate contentment as if it were a precious commodity that will reap great profit for us in the future. It will. Paul says that he has learned to be content. It did not just spring up in him one afternoon as he was putting on his sandals and about to go out for a walk. He learned contentment and we should take that to heart. It is unlikely that we will wake up one morning with the gift of contentment. We must cultivate it and grow in it, daily, hourly, as things come into our lives that would snatch away, or snuff out, the blessed peace that contentment fosters.
It is interesting that we don't need to learn to complain. We don't need to cultivate anger or frustration. Those things seem to cultivate themselves. But contentment is something that we must learn. Let us start by being thankful for the many mercies we have seen the Lord do in our lives. He has been ever gracious to us, even when we have gone our own way and rebelled. He has yet protected us and preserved us when we have deserved far worse. Let us ever seek more of his grace and mercy, but let us be content in the dispensations that providence has brought our way throughout our lives.
There are many who seem to have it good in this life. They seem to have all the blessings and advantages that we look at and think, "Why him/her and not me?" But let us learn contentment here. Many have their heaven here on earth only. The Christian has hope of a future blessedness that the man or woman of the earth not only despises, but forsakes for those very temporal, fleeting enjoyments that cannot translate to eternity. Let us all seek to be content. Let us plead with the Lord for more of His mercies unto us, but let us also seek to be content with what He grants us.
Soli Deo Gloria,