1. Contentment is found in resting upon the person and work of Jesus.
Contentment is rooted in faith in Jesus Christ, who saves his people from sin and death. The apostle Paul reminds us that whatever gain we have in this life is nothing compared to “the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:8). It can often be surprising how putting Christ and his kingdom first actually brings more contentment and satisfaction than anything else. The truth is that it is in Christ where we find all our needs met and all our desires fulfilled. As children of God, believers can rest in the knowledge that God supplies all that they need (Matt. 7:7–11).
2. Contentment comes with a rightly ordered life.
Jesus says, “Seek first the kingdom of God… and all these things will be added to you” (Matt. 6:33). Pursuing Christ and serving him are always to come first for the Christian. Paul could rejoice in his imprisonment because it served the advance of the gospel.
I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. (Phil. 1:12–14)
3. Contentment is learned.
This means that contentment does not magically happen just because we get a raise, get married, have a child, tour the world, or reach any other life goal. Contentment is a skill one learns by consciously looking for and appreciating what God is doing in our lives in every circumstance.
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. (Phil. 4:11–12)
Paul also reminds us that contentment and godliness go hand in hand (1 Tim. 6:6). The more we learn godliness and contentment, the more we will know how to be content no matter what happens.
4. Contentment comes with experience and practice.
Paul says in Philippians 4:9, “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Contentment is like a muscle that needs regular exercise to stay fit and strong. Practically, this means living with an attitude of gratefulness for the things God has given to us and trusting in the fact that God is present and working, despite hardships or difficulties.
To covet another person’s possessions or achievements is to disregard the blessings God has given to us already. Paul reminds us that “we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world (1 Tim. 6:7). Discontentment ultimately comes from forgetting God’s greatest provision: Christ and the salvation he secured by his death on the cross. The more we practice living in gratitude for Christ and his work and seek to serve him in a variety of situations, the more we will be able to say along with Paul that “in any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need” (Phil. 4:12).
5. Contentment comes when we look forward to the new creation.
Contentment comes from knowing that the future is secure. Jesus commands us to “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (Matt. 6:20). When we look ahead to eternity, we recognize that the inheritance Christ purchased for us so greatly outweighs anything we could have in this life. One day heaven will be united to earth in the new creation, and remembering this hope puts our lives here on earth in perspective. Paul writes, “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:20). Jesus gives his people the strength to endure and rejoice in all circumstances because he is their Savior who will faithfully bring them through this life into heaven, their true home, which will be united to earth in the new creation (Phil. 1:6; Rev. 21:1–4).