I’m glad in God, far happier than you would ever guess—happy that you’re again showing such strong concern for me. Not that you ever quit praying and thinking about me. You just had no chance to show it. Actually, I don’t have a sense of needing anything personally. I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.” Philippians 4:10-13 (MSG)


When you hear of someone going to travel the world with only a backpack for their belongings, it can sound crazy. If they are going to be gone over a week, how could they possibly take so few things with them? But, for the person traveling, they don’t want to be weighed down by things. Additional things aren’t going to make their trip more enjoyable. It might actually weigh them down.

Paul ended his letter to the Christians at Philipi with an insightful perspective on happiness. In the midst of receiving a gift from the Philippians and showing his gratitude, he wanted to unmask the source of his happiness. In reality, Paul’s circumstances were anything but happy. He had experienced imprisonment, beatings, and opposition on all sides. If someone could justify being upset, seeking revenge, or complaining, it would be Paul. Paul didn’t look at his circumstances to find the recipe for joy and happiness. He looked to Christ. Contentment has nothing to do with our circumstances and everything to do with the God in whom we trust. If we have found our greatest satisfaction in Him, then the ebbs and flows of this life will not dictate our attitude. The secret to happiness is really not a secret at all. Many times, we want to believe that “more is more.” If I have more money, more friends, more opportunities, then I would be happy. Yet, the constraints that we are setting to achieve that level of happiness are unattainable. We never define what “more” equals. We create so many “if-then” statements that our contentment is tied to things- sometimes outside of our control. So, we spend our time and energy accumulating stuff only to discover that it did not bring any greater level of satisfaction to our lives. There is a deep satisfaction that occurs when our hearts are set on seeking God and trusting in Him, not things. Paul was not condemning having a lot or little, but it was never the measuring stick for his contentment. Only God can bring satisfaction to the deepest parts of our hearts. Before you start trying to fill your life with more things, look to God for contentment and satisfaction that will overflow into your life in the greatest levels of joy and happiness possible.

Scripture taken from THE MESSAGE. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002.  Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.