For many years, one of the nation's leading producers of dairy products advertised that all its milk came from contented cows. I suppose we were to believe that the more contented the cow, the sweeter the milk. Though I am not certain that's true, I am certain that contentment in God's people produces a sweeter attitude toward life in general.
The apostle Paul, as a man called to serve Christ, discovered that his service included sufferings. Most of us would never be able to understand such requirements and therefore would be unable to accept them. But as we read of Paul's sufferings, we find them to include being shipwrecked, imprisoned, scourged, in danger of brothers and strangers alike, cold, naked and hungry.
Paul not only accepted the sufferings, but he did so without complaint.
Paul wrote, "Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content" (Philippians 4:11).
How unlike many of us today! We have a house, a car, a steady job and other blessings too numerous to mention, yet, if they are not the right color or size, make or model, in the right neighborhood, or paying the right hourly wage, we are not content!
In writing to young Timothy, his son in the faith, Paul spoke of his contentment with all things.
He wrote, "But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment, let us therewith be content" (1 Timothy 6:6-8).
Was Paul really satisfied with just the clothes on his back and whatever food God provided for him to eat? I believe that he was, although many men today might look at him and say, "He is lazy, undisciplined and unmotivated."
Such an attitude might come from the fact that we are a materialistic society. It has often been said, "He who dies with the most toys wins." For this reason, many would scoff at the words of Jesus, who asked, "For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" (Matthew 16:26).
No one could ever say that Paul was lazy, undisciplined and unmotivated and truly mean it, because Paul was a man of great missionary zeal who was very self-disciplined. How then was he content with having owned so little of this world's goods?
Paul was content - that is, he was satisfied and fulfilled - because his sense of fulfillment did not come from the things he possessed, but from the Spirit of God within him. He was assured that God would provide for his every need. It happens that he saw his needs as being less and less because he focused his heart and mind upon Christ rather than upon earthly things.
As we pass through this world, there are many things to be gained. May God help us to understand that contentment with godliness heads the top of the list.