“I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation…”
See Philippians 4:12
For so many years I lived a life of discontentment. I was never truly happy, I never felt accomplished, and really, I was never satisfied with anything–myself included.
The overall picture of my life was always changing and getting better, but my mind was not. At that time, if you zoomed in closely to my life, the main crux of my discontentment was the fact that I didn’t know how to enjoy what was presently going on around me. I was always wanting to go on to something else.
My problem was, I didn’t know how to enjoy “the moment.” What’s strange is I can remember this pattern beginning as a kid. I’d think to myself:
“If I could just have my own room, then I’ll be happy.”
“If I could be popular in school, then I know life will be good.”
“If Mom and Dad would get back together, then life would be great.”
“If I could just turn 18! Then I can move out, and I can finally enjoy myself!”
This continued on into adulthood:
“If I could just get her to date me, then life would be wonderful.”
“If I could just find a nice apartment, I’d be happy.”
“If I could just build my own home and live in a good neighborhood, then things would be so much better.”
“If I could just get in shape, then I’d feel good about myself.”
“If I could just get my company to grow, then we’d have money, then we’d finally be happy.”
The enemy had me convinced that something always needed to be different before I could enjoy my life–so I never enjoyed my life! My unrenewed mindset also thought that watching porn, drinking heavily, and video game binges would give me what I was looking for. Nope. Not even close.
After none of that stuff worked, my immature thinking came up with the idea of, “Just start being religious, never miss a church service, and never do anything wrong.” Ha! Oh but don’t laugh, I actually tried this!
I began to shut off everyone who “sinned too much” and I compared my level of “holiness” to the “less-than-holy” people. Notice all my air-quotes to emphasize what might not be true? But it didn’t end there! My mission was to let the world know something very important, “Stop sinning or go to hell! Repent!”
It gets worse. Satan began to lie to me about my religiosity, “You have to stop sinning too, or else you’re just a hypocrite.” You can imagine where this went. I’d beat myself up for weeks over a “big” sin, and I’d overlook the “little” sins. I had become my own judge and jury–“But I still go to church and you don’t, so shut up!”
Madness ensued as I couldn’t keep up with my checked boxes of reading preset lengths of the Bible each day. I also became obsessed with trying to figure out how to repent of the sin I just committed. “Did I repent correctly? How do I know? The heck with it. You know what? That wasn’t even a sin, really. Or maybe it was? I’ll just do longer in my devotional time. That will make up for it.”
Religion made me more miserable than ever. Not only could I not live up to my own impossible standards, but the other grace-confused Christians made sure I knew I was falling short of their idea of perfection. They mixed Mosaic Law in with grace, which equals only Mosaic Law, which Christians are dead to (see Romans 7:4, 8:2, Galatians 2:19, 5:9).
What they, and I, didn’t understand, was that we haven’t earned anything. It’s all been free from the beginning! Thankfully, God revealed this and I repented of trying to repent all the time. But for those who still live that life, sadly, they’re in for a big surprise when they meet Jesus. They’ll be shocked as He tells them their religious works didn’t buy them a fancier spot in heaven. In Him we are all equal, and we all get the same reward: Him. Forever. Starting right now. From the moment we first believe.
None of this stuff gave me what I was looking for! I simply could not reach the dangling carrot of contentment! I could type up pages of ideas I thought would fill the emptiness in my soul! That one thing to finally make me feel content, I wanted so badly! I wanted to not always be wanting something else, or to be somewhere else! Who could teach me how to enjoy the moment?! Who could teach me how to live for today?!
By Him teaching me my value, through what He’s done for me, the Spirit of Christ began to expose something special: how to see the beauty of every moment of life! Every moment! Not just when things are good or when I accomplish a feat–but right now, today, this very second!
So I started to allow Him to renew my thought-life! The dumb, untrue things I used to say, such as, “I wish I was living in the good old days,” I no longer said! As my mind was getting renewed to God’s grace and my true identity as His child, my mouth followed suit!
The truth is today is the good old days! Today! I’m no longer looking behind me! Nor am I looking ahead, relying on tomorrow to make me feel content–NO! “Today is the day the Lord has made! I will rejoice and be glad in it!” (see Psalm 118:24). TODAAAAAAAAAAY!
We must begin to thank God for today! Today is such a gift! No matter what or who we are facing, today is special! “But Matt, what about–” No. Today. My friend, no matter what…focus on today. The Holy Spirit has taught me how precious every breath is, how blessed we are to have a beating heart, and how honored we should feel to even be alive on His awesome Creation!
So today, my friends, know this: God wants to reveal to you how to have an abundant life, a life of complete contentment! Most of us already have this life–we just don’t know it! It’s Jesus! Jesus is this life! Jesus is your life! (See John 10:10, Colossians 3:4). Paul said, “I have learned the secret to being content in any and every situation. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (see Philippians 4:12-13). Your strength, your enjoyment, your all things for today is Christ in you! He’s there! Enjoy Him, be yourself, and live Him out!
A prayer for you: Heavenly Father, thank you for teaching me the secret of being content. Man, this was NOT easy. But now I know it’s your Spirit in me–permanently! It’s understanding what you’ve done to me! I can enjoy the moment at all times because of these truths! Right now, I lift up all who are reading this, directly to you. So many of them are restless. Nothing ever seems to be good enough, and no matter what they do or where they go, that same feeling remains. Please renew their minds to who they are! Take them further into the knowledge of your grace! Reveal the secret of contentment, Christ’s Spirit in them! He is their only hope of glory, peace, and satisfaction! Many of these dear readers already have Him, so teach them to stop asking for more of Him and instead to just enjoy Him. But for those who don’t have Him, I ask that you continue to work on their hearts. Let them know the only way they will ever feel whole is to become one with you through Jesus. In His name I pray, amen.
This devotional is from 60 Days for Jesus, Volume 2. Get your copy here!