I grew up in a small town in Southern California, and when I was a kid, I had a paper route and I would go and I would deliver papers on my route to some people who must have been multimillionaires living in huge mansions. And then just a block or two away, I would go and deliver papers to people who were in extreme poverty, living in shacks.
It was interesting because you’d think that those who had a lot would be happier than those who had very little, but that’s not what I saw. In some cases I saw people across the board, whether they had a lot or had very little, they were very unhappy, they were very uncontent. Sometimes it was the other way around, people who had a lot and people who had very little, they were very happy and content. This made a big impact on me growing up because it helped me realize that earthly possessions does not necessarily mean that we’re going to be happy or content.
St. Paul, he talks about contentment and he talks about it in an amazing place. He was sitting in prison and he didn’t know what was in store for his future. He might be let go. He might be put to death. He was sitting in chains. And yet in the letter that he wrote to his friends at the church in Phillipi, he talks about contentment and how even though he was in these terrible situations, he still had contentment. Share with you from Philippians, Chapter 4, verses 12 and 13, St. Paul says,
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. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:12-13)
If you or I were sitting in prison, would we be very content or happy? Probably not. We would be anxious. We would be worried about things, but not St. Paul because he found his strength in his savior. He [Jesus] is the one that gave Paul contentment, even in any situation that he faced, and that’s the confidence that comes through here in these verses that he writes to the Philippians.
And that can also be the source of contentment for us in our lives, whether we have a lot or whether we have very little. What we do have is precious. God has given us his love and the assurance that heaven belongs to us. God has given us a promise that we have an eternal future in heaven with him that gives us the ability to persevere through anything in this life, even if it means that we have very little because we know that we have great things in store.
Our Lord Jesus came into this world. He lived for us in our place. He had very little. And yet he was content. He was content even to go to the cross. And there he suffered and died to pay for our sins. And that’s what gives us contentment here and now. Because we know that heaven belongs to us.
We thank you, Lord, for coming into our world and for winning for us our salvation, opening the gates of heaven to us. Let this always be the source of our contentment here in this life. No matter what we have or what we have not, help us to be heavenly minded and help us to rejoice always in the fact that we have salvation from you. We pray this in your name, amen.
God’s peace be with you.