And I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard. You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: "It is more blessed to give than to receive." Acts 20:35
I love studying the Apostle Paul because he had a genuine understanding of where true contentment came from. He had lived a grand life as a Roman citizen, and as the son of a prominent business owner in the ancient city of Tarsus. His parents' wealth gave him the best education that money could buy, opportunities for travel, and a comfortable life. When Paul chose to trust in Jesus, he traded many of these comforts to make Jesus known. His travels required continually depending upon the hospitality of those who welcomed him. He had to find opportunities to earn an income through tent-making so he could pay his own way on his missionary journeys. He knew what it was like to be hungry, imprisoned, and worn out. In the midst of his wealth and poverty, he learned the secret to contentment which he shares in Philippians 4:13, "I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength."
Instead of being resentful and looking back to the good life that he had as a boy, Paul chose to be content. He set an example of working hard for the early church and having an attitude of humility. He reminded the early church in Ephesus of the words of Jesus Christ, "It is more blessed to give than to receive." Paul knew that there was more satisfaction in giving to the needs of others rather than accumulating more wealth. He was no longer caught up in the rat race of trying to make more stuff, but instead was living his life for a higher purpose. True contentment doesn't come from our circumstances, but rather comes from a relationship that is connected to God.
There are some of us have a hard time with money because we never feel like we have enough. We stock up nest eggs, money for a rainy day, determine a number for retirement and think as long as we put cash away, that contentment will come. The act of saving can keep you financially solvent, but it won't bring contentment. Contentment comes with honoring God and putting Him first in everything that we do. When we let Him take control and trust Him as the one true King, we find hope and purpose.
How content are you right now? If you had to rank your contentment on a scale of 1-10, 10 being completely content and 1 being completely unsatisfied, where are you? Write out your number and the circumstances that have led you to be in that place. After you have established that number, write out some ways that you came move toward the attitude that we see in the Apostle Paul. He didn't let his circumstances determine his contentment; instead he found true satisfaction in his relationship with God.
Read Acts 20:32-38 (NLT)
“And now I entrust you to God and the message of his grace that is able to build you up and give you an inheritance with all those he has set apart for himself.
“I have never coveted anyone’s silver or gold or fine clothes. You know that these hands of mine have worked to supply my own needs and even the needs of those who were with me. And I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard. You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
When he had finished speaking, he knelt and prayed with them. They all cried as they embraced and kissed him good-bye. They were sad most of all because he had said that they would never see him again. Then they escorted him down to the ship.
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