Bruce Collins, Evangelist

The personal website of Bruce Collins

What do we Know of Contentment?



Philippians 4:11  Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.


Contentment, What is it?

This Greek word for contentment is only used here in the Bible.  I am not enough of a Greek scholar to know if variations of the same word are used elsewhere, but whatever Paul was talking about in this letter seems to be a unique experience as far as Christians are concerned.  I suspect that if the truth were known, most of us are not really content–no matter what our circumstances are.  I confess.  I have trouble being content. 


Whenever I think of contentment, I think of a slogan on some canned milk we bought when I was young.  It said, “From contented cows.”  Now I don’t know if there are other kinds of cows; but when I would see cows in their summer pastures, laying down under shade trees, chewing the cud, I always thought of that slogan.  The cows had been fed, they were keeping cool, they were relaxing and they were chewing the cud.  That is, they were digesting what they had previously eaten.  Maybe that is really what Paul means by contentment.  This chewing the cud would speak to me of meditation on the word of God.  So maybe if Christians were being fed good spiritual food, if they were keeping their cool and relaxing, if they were meditating, maybe they would be able to say,  “I have learned (by experience)  in whatever state I am to be content.”  .


The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the state of contentment as follow:  Pleased and satisfied: not needing more. In Philippians 4:6, Paul admonishes Christians not to be anxious.  I assume a contented person would not be an anxious person. He goes on to mention the value of prayer in keeping us from being anxious.  He then tells Christians how to think.  The qualities mentioned can only be found completely in the Lord Jesus, so I suspect he is really asking us to keep our focus on Him.  If we commit things to God in prayer and live a disciplined thought life, we will have the peace of God.  This peace of God comes from a God of peace in this chapter.  Wow! Paul almost acts like a spiritual counselor.  He gives us the key to getting rid of anxiety and living in a state of contentment or satisfaction.


The Misunderstood Verse

 In Philippians 4:13, Paul says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  Paul was not superman.  Paul was not spider-man.  Paul could not do all things.  But he could do all the things that are mentioned in this section of Scripture through Christ who strengthened him.  Paul could be abased, he could abound.  He could be full, he could be hungry.  He knew what it was to have plenty and how to suffer because he had unmet needs.  He could be content, but the only reason he could do these things is because of Christ who strengthened him.  It wasn’t a situation where he was striving to achieve these goals.  He recognized that through prayer and through proper disciplined thinking he could have the peace of God and it would come from the God of peace.


Personal Application

My wife is having surgery as I write this for a bulging disk.  Many people have given us advice—well-meaning advice I might add.  But ultimately, we had to make a decision.  Should she do it?  And if she should do it, what doctor should do it and which of two surgeries should she have? There were two surgery paths suggested.  There were other doctors that could have been consulted.  We finally asked the doctor we were seeing to consult with another of his colleagues and then schedule the surgery that he would schedule if my wife were his mother.  We have prayed about this, and we have agonized about this.  We probably shouldn’t have agonized, but we have.  My wife certainly cannot continue living in the pain that she has suffered over the last six months.  We have together after much prayer committed this to the Lord and we are going to believe that the surgeon He has sent us to is the right surgeon.   We have prayed and now we are going to think about our blessings and about the Lord’s care and we are going to expect a positive outcome.  Frankly, I am at peace.  I am satisfied with the decision we have made.  We are trusting that the Lord who loves us has guided us in the right way.   I am content.  I think my wife is as well. 


Bruce Collins


Meditation for the week of October 9, 2016

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