The secret to contentment

Sophia Ng // January 13, 2017, 4:00 pm

Secret to Contentment

We know them all too well – the thoughts that run through our heads and never make it out of our mouths.

She looks so attractive in that dress, I wish I looked like that.

He doesn’t deserve that promotion, I do. 

Why can’t my husband be like hers?

The act of comparing our lot with that of others leads to discontent and despair. And with our lives so embedded in social media, the daily message we get is that we never have it good enough. There’s job envy, house envy, perhaps even spouse envy.

It may be targeted at the friend who closed three property sales in a week, or the one who posts endless wefies of her new boyfriend, or the one who always seems to be travelling to a new exotic destination. Others around us seem to have such perfect lives – at least, that’s what their Facebook posts suggest. They look like such a happy couple. If only I …

If we are not careful, the seed of such thoughts will take root in our hearts. And then it rots the bones (Proverbs 14:30).


Whenever I’m in a funk of discontent, I remember the apostle Paul and his letter to the Philippians. When he wrote about learning to be content “in whatever situation” (Philippians 4:11), he was not living in plenty but bound in chains. He had no freedom, and was neither living in comfort nor enjoying the admiration of men.

I’m not sure how we could envy Paul’s circumstances, but I would love to learn the secret to his contentment. Thankfully, he tells us.

Paul had found his sufficiency in Jesus Christ alone. Not his number of followers, his wealth, or the number of likes on his Instagram posts.

“I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need,” he wrote in Philippians 4:12. And, in the following verse, the answer: “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”

Paul had found his sufficiency in Jesus Christ alone. Not his number of followers, his wealth, or the number of likes on his Instagram posts.

Until we find our sufficiency and allow the love of Christ to become our everything, we will continue to feel those pangs of jealousy, to the point of questioning the lot we’ve been given.


Elsewhere, God’s word provides us the balm for envy and bitterness. In all things, give thanks (1 Thessalonians 5:18). 

Thanksgiving, surely, is the cure for toxic envy. When we’re busy counting our blessings, we won’t have time to keep score of what we lack.

So in all things, give thanks. It’s all good, because it’s all from Him.

In fact, God has already given us all things. He even gave us His son, Jesus, who died on the cross for our sins. “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave Him up for us all – how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32)

Yes, she looks great in that dress. But be thankful that you must look amazing, because you were created in His image.

Yes, you probably deserved a promotion, too. But for now, until you get one, be thankful that you have a job.

Yes, she’s got a wonderful husband. Till it’s your turn, be thankful that you have a Saviour who loves you to death – even death on the cross.

So in all things, give thanks. The things you have, the things you don’t have, the things you will have. It’s all good, because it’s all from Him.