I just got a check from the U.S. Government as part of a stimulus package going out to every American. Praise. The. Lord. It hit my bank account yesterday and my first thought was — boy, a new iPhone would be nice! I’ve been using the same one for about 4 years now, which is about seventy-five in iPhone years. Sure, it still works just fine. I get plenty of telemarketers calling every day, people sending me funny memes, the Facebook app loads up every day without fail. So why was I thinking of a new iPhone? Because that’s what we’re “supposed to do.”
Let me say — there’s nothing wrong with getting a new iPhone. I’m sure I will eventually. That’s a bit beside the point. What I’m getting at is — in this culture, we’re made to believe that what will make us happy is the next thing. A new phone, a new car, a bigger house, a better vacation, a family that looks like my coworker’s family… If I can just make a little more money, I’ll finally be fulfilled, I’ll finally be happy, I’ll finally be… content.
Want to know what I’ve found about chasing contentment from the next big thing? It doesn’t work.
In 2008, I had the following jobs: Call Center Agent, Shopping Cart Pusher, Bank Teller, DirecTV Installer, Tractor Part Courier. I was miserable the entire time. I kept thinking that if I could only get a better job, I would find contentment, I would be happy. So I changed jobs — a lot. But I never found it.
That’s because — contentment isn’t a matter of circumstances, it’s a matter of the heart.
This is something that the Apostle Paul wanted us to understand… He said in Phillippians 4:
11I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12I 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. 13I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Like many of us, I’ve always loved verse 13 — I can do all things through Jesus! Amen! Yes! But if we look at the verses before that — what is Paul really talking about? He’s saying — I can be content in any circumstance. Whether I’m poor or rich, whether have a lot or a little, whether I’m pushing shopping carts or have a great job — I can do it all! I can be content in all of it — because it’s not about my circumstances, it’s about Jesus.
Have I achieved total contentment in all things? Absolutey not! Haha! I’m still a big time work in progress… but here are a few things that have helped me as I work towards it.
- Live a grateful life // There is no contentment apart from gratitude. It’s like trying to make an omelette without eggs. Make it a part of your daily routine to find something to thank God for.
- Stop comparing yourself to others // Nothing will make you more miserable than comparing your life to someone else’s life. God has given you a life to live — focus on that!
- Know that Jesus is our reward // Ultimately, as believers, knowing Jesus is our great reward. Invest time in prayer, worship and reading the Word. The more you focus on Him, the less important unimportant things become. It’s like the old hymn — the things of earth shall grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.
I’m praying this over our church today — that we would find our contentment in Christ. Blessings!