People seem to be unhappy! Wherever we go there is people complaining, criticising, bad-mouthing, judging etc. Everyone seems dissatisfied with themselves and dissatisfied with their lives.
Even the Christians are dissatisfied!
And God has left us a multitude of promises in scripture! Why is this? It seems this dissatisfaction permeates our lives, the jobs we have, the money we make, and the houses we live in. We are not content with the people we are or even the people in our lives. Something else always looks better, the grass is always greener on the other side. There always seems to be something we are not content with.
In each of us there can rise up a spirit of discontent that causes us to fuss, nag, bicker, quarrel, and complain. In my house, as I am sure it is in every other house, it is a great hindrance to happy relationships and happy living if someone in the house is not content.
God’s desire for us is to be content.
“But godliness actually is a means of great gain, when accompanied by contentment” (1 Tim 6:6 MSG). As opposed to godliness without contentment – which means that being all “Christian” and knowledgeable about God is of no value whatsoever, if you are not content. Your faith is empty. Ouch!
But, Paul could say, “For I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am in. 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,…I can do everything through him who give me strength.” (Phil 4:11-13).
Paul says “I have learned” which means he was not always content, but that it was a skill he developed over time. What an encouragement to all of us that we can indeed learn to be content in any and every situation. Paul’s contentment is an attitude of the mind that he has developed and not a reliance on feelings of contentment or happiness.
Paul actually tells us the secret to being content: “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” Paul is saying that the Lord is the one who helps him to develop a mindset that is content, that in relationship with the Lord, the Lord strengthens him through the Spirit to be content.
When we can recognize the presence of discontentment in our lives and acknowledge it as sin, we can seek God’s grace to overcome it and find new joy in living. With the Spirits help each of us can learn to be content in all circumstances. Circumstances where we may feel fulfilled and blessed, as well as circumstances where we find we have lack or shortage. The Spirit enables this in our lives.
Over the last few weeks, and join me if your want, I have been pondering whether the loneliness I sometimes feel in my life and the conflicts in my relationships are the result of an underlying spirit of discontentment within myself?
That feeling will not change when we think satisfaction can be found in any material possession or improved circumstances. It can only be found in a relationship with the Lord. Heb 13:5 has the Lord’s promise ‘never to leave or forsake me’, the Lord’s intention is that there is great satisfaction in knowing the love of the God of the Universe who is always with you, but then He showed me an instruction to a way of life, hidden in this same promise:
Keep your lives free from the love of money
and be content with what you have, because God has said,
‘Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you
Real satisfaction can only be found in the Lord.
He is the Good Father. The temptation is to seek money as the answer to all our problems, but God wants us to be content with Him, for He is the one who satisfies the thirsty soul and fills the hungry soul with good things (Psalm 107:9). His way is to be content with what we have, for while the circumstances of life change daily, He is unchanging and ever with us, never to leave us (Hebrews 13:5).
As our knowledge of Him increases through the study of His Word and through prayerful periods in His presence, we shall find a settled peace and contentment growing within us. We are able to settle into what the Serenity Prayer asks for:
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
Amen. –Reinhold Niebuhr
Contentment is focused on Him as author of our lives.
When we find our satisfaction in a relationship with Him, focusing on Him as the source of contentment, it will enable us to receive with gratitude what He gives us, and at the same time thank Him for what He denies us, being confident that His ways are perfect.
Contentment can be learned, God will provide the strength to be content.
What does your level of contentment look like? How much are you fighting to be content?
Father help me to be content with Your current provision in my life. Help me to understand and know that Your presence in my life is all I will ever need. Your are a good Father and know what I need, help me to rest in your love for me and the knowledge that You will never leave me. Amen.
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