Thursday, April 4, 2013

Whatever Happened to Contentment?

            Have you noticed that no one seems to be content anymore?  Nothing is ever right. No can ever please. The government is all messed up.  I didn’t like the way they cut my hair.  She never does the job right.  I don’t have enough time.  Why do I hit all the red lights?  My health is not good.
               The culture we are living in has us all living with our feelings on our sleeves, able to get wounded so easy – someone makes us angry; we live in loneliness; we are easily disappointed.  No one seems “content” anymore! 
This is even true for the follower of Jesus.  Whatever happened to the personal characteristic of contentment?  Contentment is that inner confidence that knows God is in charge; that God is with me; that I am in His hands – and because of this, my life life-experience is just as it should be.
The Apostle Paul wrote to the early followers of Jesus in the city of Philippi: I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do everything through him who gives me strength (Philippians 4:11f). 
Paul is writing from prison!   His ministry brought him incredible challenges and much suffering.  And yet, he writes about being content.  He writes: Five times I received from the Jewish leaders the forty lashes minus one.  Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spend a night and a day in the open sea.  I have been constantly on the move.  I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countryman, in danger from the Gentiles, in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea, and in danger from false brothers.  I have labored and toiled and often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst, and often gone without food.  I have been cold and naked.  Besides everything else, I have the daily pressure of my concern for all the churches (2 Corinthians 11:23f).  And yet, Paul writes about being content.
As modern day followers of Jesus Christ, we need to recover this characteristic of contentment in our lives.  Contentment brings peace.  Contentment brings harmony. Contentment brings spiritual power.  Contentment brings focus and clarity.  Contentment deepens one’s relationship with God.  But sadly, too many of gripe, complain, and are angry about our place in life or the things happening to us.   Am I suggesting we should not try to improve our situation or become better off or more healthy?  Absolutely not!  Contentment with who we are and where we are frees us to move forward in our lives in the fruit of the Holy Spirit and to live the abundant life God promises us in Jesus.  Contentment is the balm that keeps our perspective godly and righteousness as we navigate the difficulties of life. 
Ask God to help you bring this godly character attribute into your life. Godliness with contentment is great gain! (2 Timothy 6:6).

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