This post on Learning to be Content was written by Jeffrey Chen, who is pursuing a Masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy at Fuller Theological Seminary. Jeffrey has a passion for sharing God’s love with those around him. He blogs at The Wayvy Life.
“For I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). This is my favorite and one of the most famously quoted verses from the Bible. Yet, it is also probably the most misused verse. A lot of athletes, professional and amateur, will have this verse on their social media profile. Star NBA player Steph Curry has it written on his basketball sneakers. However, they often use it as a mantra for their abilities to achieve anything on the field because God is on their side. I can run the fastest because I believe in Jesus. I can make the game-winning shot because I believe in Jesus. I can hit a walk-off home-run because I believe in Jesus. While, yes, God gives many athletes incredible abilities to do such things, that is actually not at all what the verse is talking about.
Philippians 4:13 is not about accomplishing. Rather, it is about learning to be content. This verse comes from a letter by the author Paul, who is writing to the Philippians to thank them for a gift they sent him while he was in prison. The verses preceding Philippians 4:13 provide more context as they read, “10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 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” (Philippians 3:10-12).
As you can see, when Paul says he can do all things through Christ, he is not talking about how with God he has been able to achieve tremendous success. Rather, he is talking about learning to be content in every situation of life. Paul has been through many ups and downs throughout his life, success and failure, wealth and poverty, freedom and imprisonment. He has seen it all. And through it all, he has realized now that he has found the secret to life. The secret to being OK all the time, and especially how to endure the bad times, such as being in prison. And that secret is Jesus. Paul has learned to be satisfied in Christ, as opposed to being satisfied only if…only if he has lot of wealth. Only if he has lots of food. Only if he has lots of friends. Only if he has personal freedom. Instead, Paul is satisfied always. Because he knows that the God of the universe loves us, so much so He sent His Son Jesus to die for us and rise from the dead to forgive our sins. And that is something that will never change.
Too often, we get caught up in the “only if”. We say we’ll be content with our lives only if we have a good stable job, a lovely spouse, no debt, happy kids, blah blah blah. Unfortunately, it’s never enough. We live in a society where there is always more to achieve, always something wrong with our lives. We never reach the point of contentment, especially with all the curve-balls life throws our way. The problem is, your life will never be perfect. So, if you want to be truly content, that cannot depend of the circumstances around you. You have to find contentment in something that will never change, always be there, and provide you with what you are looking for. To me, the answer is God’s love. God’s love is eternal, everlasting, and everything our heart desires. Ultimately, it is only His love that can bring you true satisfaction is every situation, good and bad. I hope this truth may speak to you.
As always, I would love any feedback, good and bad. I’m always happy to discuss my posts or anything else you would like to talk about. Also, please check out me new personal blog The Wayvy Life at thewayvylife.com!
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