Contentment was a huge test in Paul’s life. After all, God said he would use him mightily: “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of mine to bear my name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel” (Acts 9:15, NKJV). When Paul first received this commission, “Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God” (Acts 9:20).
Paul was in no hurry to see everything fulfilled in his lifetime. He knew he had an ironclad promise from God, and he clung to it. For the present moment, he was content to minister wherever he was, witnessing to a jailer, a sailor or a few women on a riverbank. This man had a worldwide commission, yet he was faithful to testify one-on-one.
Nor was Paul jealous of younger men who seemed to pass him by. While they traveled the world winning Jews and Gentiles to Christ, Paul sat in prison. He had to listen to reports of great crowds being converted by men he’d battled with over the gospel of grace, yet Paul didn’t envy those men. He knew that a Christ-surrendered man knows how to abase as well as abound. “Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content” (1 Timothy 6:6-8).
The world today might say to Paul, “You are at the end of your life now, but you have no savings, no investments. All you have is a change of clothes.” I know what Paul’s answer would be. He wrote, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God” (Romans 8:18-19).
May we say with Paul, “I’ve won Christ. I’m the winner! I’ve found the pearl of great price. Jesus granted me the power to lay down everything and take it up again myself. Well, I laid it all down, and now a crown awaits me. I have only one goal in this life: to see my Jesus, face to face.”