By Rick Furmanek
These are restless times . . . these are evil times. Like never before, we are witnessing a breakdown of our civilization . . . a disintegration of our world on a scale never previously imagined . . . our right to exist as followers of the One True God is being brought into question . . . at every level.
Peculiarly, in the midst of this barrage of chaos coming at us, God has instructed his followers to be content . . . a tall order in such an unstable environment. Yet we discover in the pages of the Bible that every single follower of Jesus has been given the directions, power and ability to live out a life of contentment to its fullest in the midst of the most dire of circumstances. No matter the swirling instability that surrounds us, God says we can remain unaffected . . . untethered . . . and even at perfect peace in our person . . . if we will only learn to practice contentment . . . daily.
First, let’s put some false notions to rest about contentment . . .
• Abundance and plenty is not the secret to contentment
• Power and prestige is not the secret to contentment
• Escapism and reclusiveness is not the secret to contentment
In fact, one could conclude from a biblical viewpoint . . . that those who seek contentment through any or all of these notions mentioned are in fact setting themselves up to have true contentment elude them in their pursuits.
So where is contentment found?
While there are many verses that speak to the instruction to be content, here are four particularly important passages that can provide a type of spiritual GPS, thus helping us formulate a biblical pattern of contentment. Mind you, all four of them find their origination in God . . . and not us.
1. II Corinthians 12:10 – “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
In the midst of the most extreme moments where everything seems to have gone wrong in his life, the Apostle Paul declared he was still able to find contentment.
How did he achieve that?
• Paul understood his purpose and lived it out without regard for his own interests
• Paul readily admitted his own weakness and inability in situations beyond his control
• Paul expressed complete confidence that God was his source of strength in all things
In a world of self-reliance and a self-determined attitude to avoid all appearances of weakness, we are told that God’s prescription for contentment is to remember who you serve, admit your human weakness, and employ dependence upon God’s supernatural strength to rise up to every occasion. Trusting in the supernatural power and ability of God to be at work in our lives results in the spiritual by-product of contentment.
2. Philippians 4:11-13 – “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
What can we can learn about contentment from the Apostle Paul’s own life?
• Life regularly produces circumstances that are out of our control
• Contentment can be had in every single situation we encounter
• Contentment is not just a practice for those who have little
• Through the strength of Christ in us we can experience contentment
When events and circumstance fall on us beyond our control, a spirit of restlessness, uneasiness and frustration can seize the opportunity to rear its ugly head. We must not forget the important fact that nothing comes our way, not a single thing, without it being filtered first through our Heavenly Father’s loving hands, assuring us that what is happening will turn out for our ultimate good. While we declare that truth with our lips, our reactions to unexpected trials often reflect that we still struggle with this truth.
Despite the struggle, as we begin to exercise our faith and transfer our trust to God . . . we will see that everything you and I are asked to do, react to, or respond to, can in fact be handled rightly and confidently through the supernatural strength provided by Christ. But note that important statement of Paul . . . I have learned the secret . . . which means it’s not easily seen or understood by the restless and discontent. Contentment is found through . . . the daily process of less of you and me . . . and the daily desire to have more of Christ.
3. I Timothy 6:5-8 – “Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.”
Here we see . . .
• The place of contentment has its benefits
• We must regularly subject ourselves to a reality check
• Contentment is experienced when we desire God and not things
Contentment is a good thing. It is to be desired, pursued and obtained . . . not perfectly and all at once . . . but eventually mastered where it becomes a visible spiritual character trait under the control and influence of the Spirit. There should come a time in our spiritual walk where the unexpected trials and tribulations don’t get the best of us every time.
Entering into contentment . . . possessing it as something both personally experienced and seen by others . . . comes by regular self-evaluation, experiencing the reality of who God is in our lives, and believing that what He has promised God will continue to do on behalf of those who are His own.
4. Hebrews 13:5 – “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.””
You can probably see these yourself . . . but let me offer three things I have picked up from this passage . . .
• Contentment is available to us when our focus has the right perspective
• We can’t be preoccupied with wishing for what we don’t have
• Contentment is based on the promised provision of God
God desires that each follower of Jesus arrive at a place of complete trust in, and surrender to, His promises . . . seeing that they are rock solid, true to the nth degree, unwavering, immovable, steadfast and sure to come to pass.
God has told us, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Take this to the bank . . . God has told you that He will never bail on you . . . and that He has your back in every situation you face.
Believing these promises and fleshing them out in our walk of faith will go a very long way toward providing both you and me the daily contentment we so earnestly desire in this awfully discontent world.
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