Read: Proverbs 4:23; Philippians 4:10-13

One of the ongoing problems with life in a materialistic culture is that the things we think we want soon lose their luster. The problem with the things we own is that they talk.  Yes, they become the mouthpieces of the culture, telling us that we need an “upgrade.”  And every time we listen our hearts grow discontented with what we already have or where we live. 

But it’s not just with material things.  We can become discontented with our jobs, with our relationships, and even with God.  And when the Almighty is brought into the picture, we subtly accuse him of not giving us the happiness that we think… EVERYONE…else has. 

Ahhh!  There’s the real culprit—comparison.  We compare ourselves with our neighbors, with our friends, with our co-workers, and even with celebrities on TV.  We tell our hearts that we deserve “better,” whatever “better” means.  In turn our hearts talk back to us and the dialogue leads to increasing unhappiness with our current circumstances.

Are you in this kind of a situation right now? 

Stop LISTENING to your heart and start TALKING to your heart!  

In fact, the Bible gives us insight into the very dialogue we need to use in addressing our hearts.  “What is it?” you ask. It is described in the words of the Apostle Paul as a “SECRET.” However, it is a secret that God’s messenger is very willing to make known to anyone who will listen.

In Philippians 4:10-13 the apostle acknowledges that he is grateful for a gift the Philippian Christians had recently sent to him during his Roman imprisonment.  Following this acknowledgement in verse 10, Paul told his readers that he had experienced a lot of things in life—experiences where he had a lot and experiences where he had very little (cf. v.12). And then Paul adds that he has “learned the secret of beings content in every situation” (cf. v. 12b).  And what was that secret?  Paul simply says in verse 13, “I can do everything through him who gives the strength.” 

Read that verse again.  There is a good chance you have memorized verse 13 in the past and can even recite it from memory.  But what does it really mean? Our English translations don’t capture the significance of a present participle that Paul used near the end of the paragraph.  Verse 13 could actually be translated, “I can do everything through him who is CONTINUALLY giving the strength.”  Or another way of saying this might be, “I can be CONTENT in every situation through Jesus, who is constantly giving me the strength, endurance, and contentment I need.”

Take a few more minutes to ponder what Paul is saying here.  In the apostle’s mind was an understanding that God the Holy Spirit was living within his soul--constantly!  In fact, he had access to the power of the God of the universe every single day.  In addition, Paul trusted in the goodness of his God, who controlled all things, no matter what the Heavenly Father might allow into his life.  Therefore, Paul kept on trusting this all-powerful, always-present God of the universe to get him through every single situation he faced.  And you can do the same.  After all, the same indwelling, loving God is living within every single Christian.

However, I find that understanding the verse is not so much my problem as living out the truth moment-by-moment. Might this be your challenge as well?  If so, let me suggest you take some steps to learn the secret of contentment.

  • Start by memorizing Philippians 4:13 if you have not already done so. 
  • Then make sure that you are feeding your heart every day with biblical truth. When we engage in Bible-intake we are discovering the character of God.  We will learn that he is powerful, sovereign and good. 
  • Finally, pray.  That is, ask the Heavenly Father right now to give you the strength you need to endure whatever circumstance you are in—whether it is a “good one” or “something very different from everyone around you.” 

So let me tell you a secret.  Feel free to tell others who might be unhappy with their circumstances as well...


So call on him to help you with whatever you are facing.  After all, you CAN do EVERYTHING through King Jesus, who gives you his strength!

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