Contentment is a state of being that transcends our strata in life. Contentment is the purest evidence of God at work, deep in a soul. There are several thieves of contentment, but one of the largest is materialism. It is contentment that eludes the rich and poor alike, until God can touch our craving for material things. Materialism is the sickness of scrambling to fill our "God shaped void" with something material that can somehow satisfy that craving. But it will never prove successful over the long haul. The only work that truly works, is the work of God.
Materialism is an equal opportunity master. It will suck people in from every walk of life. We can be a rich materialist or a dead broke materialist. Some may believe that the greatest evidence of materialism is riches. But in truth, there needs to be a much better measure, because materialism afflicts the rich and poor alike. Paul put his finger on the matter when he wrote these words from prison. "I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me." What Paul can "do" is what has eluded many of us today.
Paul learned that materialism, that need for something beyond the presence of God, can visit each of us. Paul rose above the discontent that dominated the world then, and now. He has learned the art of faith that manifests itself in contentment through every circumstance. Paul was not bragging, he was rejoicing over a lesson learned. Paul was saying something like this, "I've finally figured it out. This crazy desire that crops it's head in our life for more stuff, must be ignored. I get it now and I want you too as well." Paul's discovery of contentment wasn't a gift, it was "learned". He learned the "secret". And the secret was this: When we allow God to strengthen us internally, we won't become addicted to superficiality. When God is our strength, our stuff loses it's grip on us.
Do a "180 Now". Let God turn you from materialism to contentment. It won't happen overnight. Contentment is learned as our strength is increasingly found in him. So the secret is out. How do we find contentment and not be shackled by materialism? Jesus is the answer for so many of our questions. We just have to let him make us strong.