My life’s verse is Philippians 4:11.

“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.”

Learning contentment in every circumstance seems impossible to some.

Rachelle and I have a friend headed to an oncologist today for cancer tests. Our friend doesn’t know if “you have cancer” or “the tests are negative” are the words she’ll hear.

Our Christian friend can learn to be content regardless of the words she hears.

I read an online article stating that over 85% of Americans are stressed about their retirement plans.

A Christian with little to no money set aside for retirement can learn to be content.

A grandfather sent me a text message asking about the war in the Middle East and said, “I fear for my grandkids.”

It’s possible for a Christian not to fear the future and to learn to be content no matter what tomorrow holds

I could go on with examples, but all you have to do is think about your life right now.

How do we learn to be content when we find ourselves in situations that stress us out and cause us to panic or fear?

Let’s learn the art of Christian contentment from Philippians 4:11.

Words Matter

Three words in Philippians 4:11 need a little further examination.

  1. Learned – (Greek emathon). This is the Greek word from which we get our English word math. Contentment involves a process of learning. It doesn’t happen overnight. A student doesn’t take a pill and magically understand calculus. Learning something is the foundation of Christian contentment.

    Contentment in all situations requires thinking, solving, and unlocking.


  2. Content – (Greek autarkes). This Greek word means “self (auto)-satisfied (arkes)..” An automobile is a “self-moving” vehicle. A contented person is self-satisfied and doesn’t need “happy circumstances” to be content.


    For most people, “Happiness happens when happenstances happen to be happy.”

    But when you learn contentment, happiness is independent of your circumstances.

    The root of autarkes (arke) is the same root for the Greek word markerios, the Greek word translated as blessed or happy in the Beatitudes of Jesus (Matthew 5).

    Contentment is internal self-satisfaction.

    3. Circumstances – the word isn’t there in the original text. The English word “circumstances” (NIV, NASB, RSV), “state” (KJV), or “situation” (LB) is provided by the English translators. It’s not in the Greek. Paul literally writes:

I have learned to be content with who I am.

I must learn “who am I” before I can “learn to be content” in all circumstances.


This riddle of identity must be solved.

The answer to “Who am I?” must be learned, or you’ll be “tossed like waves of the ocean, to and fro by my circumstances” (James 1:6).

So, who are you?

If you answer the question of your identity with anything you’ve done or haven’t done, any accomplishment you’ve obtained or failed to obtain, any failure you’ve experienced or avoided, any person with whom you are related or were once related, or any other external experience or relationship, then you will be dependent on your circumstances or relationships for happiness and driven to depression, disappointment, and dissatisfaction by your deteriorating situation.

Real identity is only found in your Creator and what He does for, in, and with you.

I am what I am by the grace of God” (I Corinthians 5:15)

When you learn who you are by the grace of God, you’ll unlock the formula for internal self-satisfaction independent of circumstances.

By God’s grace…

  • I am loved.
  • I am forgiven.
  • I am guided.
  • I am gifted.
  • I am justified.
  • I am empowered.
  • I am held.
  • And so much more.

When you focus on GOD and what He’s done for you by His grace, you’ll find your contentment (self-satisfaction) is independent of your circumstances and centered on God’s grace.

That’s why it’s best to focus on Him, not yourself. It’s best to sing songs about His grace in Christ, not your earthly emotions or feelings. It’s always best to find a group of people who love others without conditions because they’ve learned to be content without changing people.