Moving from Covetousness to Contentment

Philippians 4:11-13 – Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

The apostle Paul admitted in Romans 7 that the command, “You shall not covet” was one with which he really struggled. In fact, he said he was full of “all kinds of covetousness” (Romans 7:8). He clearly struggled being thankful for what he had, so we can safely assume that if he was coveting, that he was also jealousy and envious. It all goes together.

But later in Paul’s life, Paul had “learned” to be content in whatever situation he found himself. Through the work of the Holy Spirit in his heart, he transformed from a covetous,  envious person to a contented person. Take note that he wrote Philippians from prison in Rome. He took a pretty hard route to get there, too. Just read Acts 21-28 to see what he endured. Yet, he had learned the secret of facing life’s ups and downs.

Look at Paul’s focus, just in the book of Philippians:

  • Paul chose to be thankful (Philippians 1:3-6; 4:6). Thankfulness is a choice and it is powerful to help us through anxieties, envy, etc.
  • Bad things happened to him, but he made a choice to see how those events actually turned out to further the gospel (Philippians 1:12-14).
  • Even when others were preaching with evil motives while he’s in jail, he pointed out that at least Jesus was preached (Philippians 1:15-18).
  • He was determined to think of the good work of Jesus in himself and others, even if bad things happened to him while good things happened to others (Philippians 1:6; 2:12-14).
  • Paul made a decision to set aside his own righteousness, and to be filled with God’s righteousness (Philippians 3:8-10).
  • His mindset was not on the past, but on moving forward (Philippians 3:12-14).
  • Paul chose positive, spiritually minded people for his company. Look at how he spoke of men like Timothy and Epaphroditus in chapter 2. Find contented Christians and make them your pattern to follow (Philippians 3:17-19).
  • He learned to view heaven as his home, and that eventually changed his perspective on how he saw things on this earth (Philippians 3:20-21).

If we find ourselves being jealous, envious and covetousness, we can take some time to prayerfully meditate upon Philippians. Paul was a man that transformed from covetousness to peaceful contentment. The Holy Spirit can do that same work through you.

Other articles on jealousy, envy and covetousness:

Monday – It was because of envy

Tuesday – What is jealousy?

Wednesday – Jealousy versus envy

Thursday – Signs you are jealous or envious

Are You Hungry?

One who is full loathes honey, but to one who is hungry everything bitter is sweet.
(Proverbs 27:7)

In this proverb, like a lot of the Proverbs, there is a contrast. There is someone who is full. They have stuffed their bodies so full, that even the taste of the sweetest substance on earth is not appealing to them. Then there is the other person who is famished. He is starved. This guy will take anything you give him and he’ll love it. Raw brussel sprouts with lemon peels? Yum, I’ll take it! Do you remember the woman who described herself as a dog who was happy to eat the crumbs from Jesus’ table (Matthew 15:27,28)? That’s the image of a truly hungry person.

So here are two quick observations for today:

  1. The “hungry” people have a different perspective on life. When we are so full in our minds by being consumed with the things of this world, we really have a hard time being grateful. Even the sweetest things in life just don’t bring us pleasure. We can be so full of stress, worry and busy-ness in this world that even a sweet baby playing can be annoying. But then spend time around someone who has faced serious disabilities from birth. I find a lot of those men and women see even the bitter things as sweet. They are so grateful, joyful and have a wonderful perspective on life. It might be good for you and me to spend more time with folks like that. We can learn to develop a “hungry” attitude that appreciates life and any blessing.
  2. The “hungry” people have a different perspective on the Word of God. They will listen to sermons, read the Bible, dive into the difficult stuff. Even the “bitter” things of the word are sweet because they are so hungry for drawing closer to God. The full person can’t even stomach the sweetest things of God. There is just no room in the tank for it. It might be that you have to put aside some of your regular entertainment, and shut off the devices more often. Start “tasting” the word, and with the Holy Spirit’s living power in that word you will develop a hunger (Hebrews 6:4-5; 1 Peter 2:1-3).

“And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything. But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger!'”
(Luke 15:16-17)

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”
(Matthew 5:6)

I Dwell Among My Own People

And he said to him, “Say now to her, ‘Look, you have been concerned for us with all this care. What can I do for you? Do you want me to speak on your behalf to the king or to the commander of the army?’ ” She answered, “I dwell among my own people.” (2 Kings 4:13)

Today’s thought comes from a statement made by the Shunammite woman. We are studying 2 Kings 4-5 in our Bible class, and yesterday we considered the example of this wonderful woman and how she served God. This woman was a “notable” woman (2 Kings 4:8) who took the initiative to provide food for Elisha whenever he passed by that way. She took it a step further and worked with her husband to make an addition to their house to provide a furnished apartment for Elisha whenever he traveled through the area (2 Kings 4:9-10). What a wonderful example of godly people using their resources and energy to serve God and His people!

What is even more remarkable than that to me is how she responded when Elisha asked her what he could do for her. How did the Shunammite woman respond?

I dwell among my own people,” she replied.

That is a statement of contentment. It is a sentence that comes from a person who is at peace with God and others. She, like any other person, had desires and wishes; you can see later in chapter 4 that one big one was that she wanted a baby. But she did not serve God and do things for Elisha so that she could have something in return. She served because she truly was grateful for her blessings and position in life, and she wanted to share that with someone. She didn’t want praise and attention for it. There was not clamoring for kickback and rewards. The Shunammite woman just served.

Do you and I “dwell among our own people”? Are we serving God and others with the same heart and motives as this lovely Shunammite lady?

Something to think about today.