The apostle Paul, wrote these words in his letter to the Philippians, “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” (Philippians 4:11). Paul was in prison at the time that he wrote these words, for merely preaching the Word of God, a situation that many would despair over today.
We, as human beings, have a tendency to look for something “better” or “different” than the circumstances in which we currently find ourselves. Whether we are dissatisfied with our jobs, financial status, relationships, appearances, or whatever it is that we are not pleased with, many of us seek something else to fill the void that we may be feeling due to not being where we want to be in life. This feeling of discontentment can lead us to commit sin, which is something for which we must watch out.
How can not being content with our current circumstances cause us to sin? There are various ways in which sin can enter our lives due to our discontentment. A person could not be happy with being a certain age, and go out and drink alcohol and do other reckless things like that in order to deal with the fact that he or she is getting older. Another person could not be satisfied with his or her job, and treat his or her boss or co-workers poorly. A more subtle way that discontentment can cause us to sin is that by not being happy with how things are for us now, we can be tempted to worry. The Bible speaks against worry, because worry shows a lack of faith that God will take care of us in our times of need (Philippians 4:6-7; Matthew 6:25; I Peter 5:7; Matthew 6:34).
So, how can we learn to be content with what we have now, rather than focusing on what we feel that we could and should have in our lives? The first step is to look for the positive in any situation in which we find ourselves. We may not like everything about our job, but there are one or two co-workers that we enjoy talking to every day. We might not have as much money that we want, but we have enough to put food on the table and a roof over our heads. Thoughts like this will hopefully help us feel better about ourselves and our lives, so that we can focus more on setting goals and reaching those goals. Sitting around and worrying about everything that we find to be negative about our lives drains our energy, and distracts us from that task that we need to perform in order to make our lives better.
More importantly, we should always focus on God and His Word every day, and we will be less focused on the temporary things of this life. When we set our eyes on the goal of Heaven, the luxuries and events that occur here on the earth will seem much less important than they once did. “But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:20-21). Ways you can keep yourself focused toward Heaven is to study your Bible every day, pray many times a day, and attend the worship services of the Lord’s church regularly.
Also, making a habit of writing down positive things about your day can also help, such as keeping a “Gratitude Journal.” In a Gratitude Journal, you write several things that happened during your day that were good and positive. It can be as simple as waking up in the morning. You can list as many positive things as you choose each day, so long as you write as least one positive thing per day. Looking back on the positive events that you write in your journal can help you keep a happier outlook on life and to also appreciate the people and things in your life more.
As Christians we should always be grateful for all of the things that God has given us in this life. We do not have to have the ‘best of the best” in order to be happy, we can be happy in any situation we find ourselves in, just as Paul was. Our lives will be much more enjoyable that way. Count your blessings!