Summary: We are not necessarily called to be happy, but are commanded to be content.
KEYS TO CONTENTMENT
Philippians. 4:1 - 19
Do you remember the prayer of the impatient Christian? It goes something like this, "Lord please give me patience, and I want it right now!" We also know that when we pray for patience we may be praying for trouble because experience and scripture tell us this
is the vehicle God often uses to deliver patience to our door. "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing [this], that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have [her] perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." James 1:2-4)
We do live in a world of impatience. Our culture has conditioned us to expect instant gratification. We are easily frustrated by the way things are going - or not going. We want quick answers to life's complex questions. We seek immediate solutions to life's insoluble problems. We even seem to want our wars fought in a time frame that will fit into our need for finality and closure. We appear to want others to fit into our schedules, satisfy our needs and further our personal agendas - right now!
Are you one of those who is dissatisfied with your situation? Are you among the many that feel they can never make ends meet financially? Do you feel overwhelmed by your circumstances? When asked how you are going, do you tend to respond, "I'm O. K. under
the circumstances." All the while feeling the circumstances are on top of you rather than vice versa?
Do ever feel there is not enough time in your day to fit in all the many things you want to do? Do have a constant and continuing yearning for things to be better? Do you often feel exhausted, unable to cope and that there is not enough of you to go around
and meet the demands that are placed upon you? If so, then welcome to the most popular club of our time. The Club Of The Discontent!
Why is it so? Why does impatience, frustration, dissatisfaction and discontent seem to be at the core of so many lives? If we are honest, we cannot deny that it is so. We seem to want absolute control of everything and everyone around us. Instead of striving to make the right adjustments; we demand our surroundings adjust to us. If we don't like it, we change it. We change channels. We even seem to go through life with a remote control in our hand. We change jobs. We change locations. We change churches. We change friends. Some even change partners. But wherever change make take us, our baggage of discontent seems to follow along and is never very far behind.
We think that if our circumstances change then we will be satisfied or content. We are always looking for the pastures that are greener. We are always hoping our ship of happiness and satisfaction will finally reach shore. We are always seeking that proverbial pot of golden contentment at the end of our rainbow. We are always reaching for that elusive state of happiness and contentment; much as a child foolishly and futilely grasps
for a floating soap bubble. Just as we think we have it in our grasp, it always seems to burst and vanish into the air of our discontent.
But contentment must be possible in the Christian life. Otherwise Paul would not have given us his testimony of contentment. Nor would he have indicated that such contentment is available to everyone - no matter what the situation or circumstance. His words are clear cut and concise, ". . . for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, [therewith] to be content." He then gives us some KEYS to CONTENTMENT:
REAL CONTENTMENT IS A STATE OF HEART AND MIND. Paul says, "I have
learned.." At the very outset the great apostle confesses even he has had problems with discontent. He has not always been at complete peace with the world around him. He has not always been fully satisfied with all his circumstances. This will not be news to us if we read the liturgy of his sufferings in his second Corinthian letter. He constantly moved from tribulation to trial and from crisis to catastrophe. If this was not enough, he speaks
of the constant pressure of people problems as he bore the burdens of other saints.
Paul shares the first real key to contentment. We are told that contentment is a learned process. We do not come by it naturally. Some may be born with a silver spoon in their
mouth, but no man is born with golden globe of happiness in his hand. It must be worked at. Like any successful learning process, acquiring contentment requires a disciplined approach. A price must be paid. We know that the medical doctor who hangs that coveted