Summary: Basically a personal look at what contentment is and how we as Christians can attain it.
Contentment - Are you ever satisfied?
I’ve been thinking a lot about this subject over the last couple of weeks and I realized how few people are actually happy in their current circumstances. Well, today I want to share with you some of the things I’ve learned about contentment.
Firstly, what does it mean to be content? My Oxford Dictionary says this:” satisfied; adequately happy; in agreement." If we go further and check out ’satisy’ we get: “meet the expectations or desires of; leave nothing to be desired.” Leave nothing to be desired eh? Is that even humanly possible?
No doubt most of us will say,” I will be content if just have this or if I just have that." Perhaps if you just have some/more friends or maybe if you were financially secure (a term I still honestly do no understand, but that’s a topic for another day) or maybe even if you were married then you would be happy. But from my experiences once you get something you want something new fills its place very quickly. Let’s look at how Paul and Jesus, true masters of contentment :), dealt with this.
"I am not saying this because I am in need, for 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 4:11-13
1. First thing to note is Paul knew what it meant to have much and also what it meant to have nothing. He pretty much experienced it all. We can definitely relate, whatever our situation.2. Secondly, he makes mention of what we consider a basic necessity, that being food. Yet he learnt that contentment was no worldly desire, including food! Matt 4:4 (NIV) (Do we have a groan from the men in the audience?) All he really needed was 3.God in his life. A simple but effective principle which seems, paradoxically, so hard for us to understand and put into practise.
I’m sure most of you know the song "Soak up the sun" from Sheryl Crow. One line sticks out for me every time I hear the song, “It’s not having what you want but wanting what you got”. Man that is so true. Contentment for me is not seeing what you don’t have but learning to see what you do have and when you do you will realize just how much you really have. That could include material things: car, job, financial security; it could include more important things: spouse; children, family, friends but even if you fail to see these things the most important thing remains: a relationship with God.
Of course, if you do not have a relationship with him then it is my personal opinion that you don’t have much to stand on anyway. Jobs, cars, friends, family come and go but God is eternal and never leaves us.
Let’s delve a bit into Jesus life as portrayed in the New Testament.
"Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." John 6:35-40 (NIV)
Wow, it’s amazing how much stuff you can really get out of this short passage. Notice again how the use of basic necessities is being used. Our basic need should be Jesus; again Bread and Water are irrelevant in the bigger scheme of things. Look at vs. 38. Jesus’ exclusive mission was to do God’s will, and if you know the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) well enough then maybe you picked up that Jesus never complained about not having enough food, or not having better friends or even about the political situation. All he was concerned about was meeting the needs of others. He did this so much that I imagine he never had time to think about himself and his potential problems. The only thing he really needed was his relationship with his Dad! Luke 5:16 (NIV)