Every generation asks the "How did people live without..." questions. Thousands of years ago, many wondered how humanity lived without fire. A more recent generation asked how in the world we survived without electricity. When we thought we heard it all, our present generation wonders how we ever lived without wireless remote controls.


It may sound funny, but it seems as though one of the major prevailing spirits of our time is a “spirit of discontentment.” Many people seem to want something they don’t have, or more of something they already do have. It is hard enough to be content when there is so much “cool stuff” out there, like remote controls. This is an issue even for the wealthy, as there is always more to obtain.

What is it?

I believe true contentment is represented by the apostle Paul’s attitude in Philippians 4. Paul states he learned to be content in any circumstance, whether peace or tribulation, abundance or scarcity. His contentment had nothing to do with what he did or did not have.


If you think you are content in your current circumstances, try to imagine life without some of the things you enjoy. Suppose you did not have your favorite pillow, comfortable bed, or favorite chair? What if your car or television were no longer yours? Imagine not having your computer, or your ever present smartphone. If all these things were suddenly taken away, would you still be content?


I imagine I would not be content if all those things were taken from me. I would probably grumble, complain, feel sorry for myself, and get mad and depressed all at the same time. If this were true, it would indicate some unsettling truths about me. 

  • First, it would make me an idolater. I would be finding identity for my life in something besides the Lord, the Giver of life. I would be valuing the gifts over the Giver, saying God is not really enough for me. 

  • Second, I would have to admit there are “things” controlling me, affecting how I feel, my attitude, and even my perspective on life. I would have allowed my blessings to become curses. 

  • Finally, I would have to admit I had doubts about God. I would have to admit to feeling like He is either unable to do what's best for me, wrong about what's best for me, or does not love me enough to care about what's best for me. 

These are devastating indictments implicit on being discontent with what we have. To be content indicates a radical trust in God, and comes from a heart which has found Him to be all-sufficient to the point that nothing else has a hold on you. That is powerful. That is the power of contentment!


What would you do if your precious “things” were taken? How can you choose to be content, like Paul, in all circumstances?

by Jimmy Aycock