It happens fairly innocently, the feelings of discontentment. Here we are in 2018, the most blessed people of any generation in the history of time, and we are dissatisfied. Usually, these tendencies of being discontented are closely related to being perfectly spoiled. Most of us are not poor. We have more creature comforts and conveniences than ever. We are parked right here in the Christian age with the manifold wisdom of God having been delivered to us. Our hearts, minds, and bodies should be full!
The devil can work with spoiled rotten. He can work through privilege to convince us that what we have is not enough or not as good as what is being experienced by the next person. He will make us believe that our neighbor is having an easier time, and that they have healthier and better relationships. Their job is going well and they are financially stable and they seem to be happier then we could ever hope to be. And, if he is successful in his efforts, Satan will begin in us a covetous spirit which will lead to a series of very dangerous choices and these choices will eventually cause us to lose our souls.
Let me tell you a little secret. What we might determine to be “good circumstances” will not make for happiness. Oh, they may make it possible for us to have joy in the moment. But circumstances are constantly changing. Rain falls on the just and unjust. Live a little while on the earth and I can guarantee you that you are going to have highs and lows, triumphs and disappointments, joy and sorrows. The schedule for these events is fluid besides. Nobody knows what the day is going to bring, and certainly nobody knows if they will even get to see tomorrow.
This leads me to appreciate the words of Paul from a Roman prison to the church at Philippi in Philippians 4:11-13 – “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” If anybody had the best and the worst it was Paul. He grew up privileged in a rich family. He had piety and power and popularity. He was regarded as the best the Jewish nation had to offer.
But life didn’t turn out for Paul as he had intended. He was humbled by Jesus on the road to Damascus. He was blinded outwardly so that he might have true vision inwardly. His journey from that moment led to a series of persecutions and struggles that eventually led to his execution for a cause he once loathed. Yet it was in his lowest moments that he found peace and true contentment. When everything else was stripped away from him, and all that was left was Christ, he learned that it was only ever Christ that he needed.
The original language of Philippians 4:13 reads this way – “I can endure anything through Christ, who gives me strength.” This passage is not, as many people have misused it, a verse that empowers us to do anything we want to accomplish. In many ways, it is just the opposite. Paul is saying that he can deal with any situation, no matter how difficult, with his Savior and Redeemer, Jesus, at his side.
No wonder why Satan had no success with Paul. Paul was content. His fullness in Christ left the devil with the incapacity to corrupt him.
It’s this simple: It is impossible for Satan to convince you that you’re unhappy when you are constantly rejoicing in the Lord.
“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.” – Philippians 4:4-5