Learned Contentment

Acts 16:16-40; Philippians 2:1-18

Paul recommends an attitude of unselfish humility. Quite remarkably, you never read where Paul said to his Roman guard, “I need you to do me a favor. Next time you happen to be near one of the Emperor’s assistants, urge him to get me out of this dump. I shouldn’t be here in the first place. I’ve been here for one year, seven months, four days, five hours, and nine minutes, and that’s long enough.” Paul’s attitude of unselfish humility prevented him from keeping meticulous records of the wrongs done to him in Rome, or anywhere else for that matter. He was there by divine appointment. He willingly submitted to his situation.

Christ modeled the great emptying-out principle that permeated Paul’s remarkable life. If we want to learn contentment, developing an attitude of unselfish humility is the perfect place to begin. Start with family or neighbors. Model it before your employees or clients. You won’t believe the impact that sort of selfless mental attitude will have on the people. You won’t have to wave flags or pass out tracts. Just demonstrate an attitude of unselfish humility. The results will amaze you.

Paul exhorts believers to have an attitude of joyful acceptance. Paul minced no words about how believers should relate to one another. “Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:14–15).

Paul knew the stakes were high as the secular world scrutinized the fledgling first-century followers of Christ. For Christians to grumble and dispute over circumstances put the credibility of the gospel at risk. Therefore, he sought an attitude of joyful acceptance, free of petty disputes and bickering. He pled for authentic joy. Nothing is more contagious. Paul said, “Don’t complain; be joyful!” That’s the ticket. Joy attracts. Grumbling repels. A choice sense of humor is wonderfully appealing.

My mentor, Ray Stedman, used to say, “We live in a world of crooks and perverts. What an opportunity to be winsomely different!” I love that kind of attitude. Joyful acceptance lights up this dismal planet!

Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, Great Days with the Great Lives (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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