Thanks to a reader yesterday leaving me some wonderful questions and comments about part of Christian Life is to be content in all things; I decided to write a post spefically about it. Hopefully to clarify and spark further conversation.
There are two verses that talk about being content and we will keep them in context:
Paul wrote a letter to Timothy outside of prison to give attention, encouragement and qualifications to leaders of the church. He also addresses how believers should conduct themselves in church.
He is specifically talking to greedy false teachers here:
5 and constant disagreement among people whose minds are depraved and deprived of the truth, who imagine that godliness is a way to material gain. 6 But godliness with contentment is a great gain.
7 For we brought nothing into the world,
and we can take nothing out.
8 But if we have food and clothing,
we will be content with these.
9 But those who want to be rich fall into temptation, a trap, and many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge people into ruin and destruction.
10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.
The next scripture is from Paul writing another letter, but it is shown through timeline he wrote most of this letter while being imprisoned but wanting to encourage other believers while awaiting possible execution over false charges tells us how to find contentment. The answer lies buried in the midst of a thank-you note. The Philippian church had sent a financial gift to Paul the prisoner. He wants to express his heartfelt thanks, but at the same time he doesn’t want to give the impression that the Lord was not sufficient for his every need. Even though he had been in a very difficult situation
10 I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that once again you renewed your care for me. You were, in fact, concerned about me but lacked the opportunity to show it. 11 I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. 12 I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. 13 I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me. 14 Still, you did well by sharing with me in my hardship.
Two different situations by Paul, but both deal with contentment. As I read a little more about contentment as being part of a Christian walk, my reader pointed out that why should we be content with a crappy life and not fix it. I totally agreed with her and used the example of walking from my domestic violent marriage. (She/He did end up using that comment to make a further point so let me clarify.)
I lived that life in fear, but I was content, because I believed that God can change a heart (but the heart has to be willing to change – his was not so he committed suicide) but I was able to find contentment in my life of fear by singing songs of praise, serving, guiding our children and knowing that somehow and someway, God was going to ultimately get the Glory in whatever situation I was in. I had faith that I was not to be treated that way and even the Bible tells husbands to be gentle with their wives. I was choosing to continue in Faith, while he choose to continue in the way he saw the world. I had contentment, he had demons to fight…so out of self-preservation; I left and did fix that crappy situation, but not until I was sure that it was going to be on God’s timing (He will let you know when it is safe and right to run from those who intend you harm) God’s answer to me leaving that situation has caused me to write more and more about faith, reaching out to women in domestic violence and crying with those who lost someone to suicide. I see now, that all I am doing since I left that situation has been used for God’s glory and praise that he provides.
So Paul was able to be stuck in a dungeon cell shackled and awaiting his death, but he was able to find contentment even there. How can I possibly NOT find contentment in that fact that my bank account isn’t as big as I would like it or that people are idiots when traffic is slowing down.
How DARE I compare my inconveniences to Paul and not seek contentment and accept to be content.
Contentment: At peace, grateful no matter what, but honest in frustration. Allowing God to have control and being okay with what He chooses even if it is not my first choice. Knowing he ultimately has a greater plan that I would ever understand. – Chris Adams
Sure we can be mad at God for our crappy situations (He’s just happy to hear from us) but rather than just screaming at him about how unfair life is, we start searching through His word and what we know of what He would do and fix where we are. Sometimes the answer may be that you are to sit in the filth doing the dirty work and sometimes He tells us to run. Your personal situation and your willingness to listen to God’s voice will tell you what to do next.
But the whole contentment thing IS part of our spiritual journey and sometimes it is hard, hard, hard. But nothing is impossible with God being allowed to do his thing in your life.
I asked some people to define what content was and here are there answers:
- Jennifer – Contentment = enjoying what I have instead of longing for more or different. Whether it’s material stuff of phases of life, I find that discontentment is usually the result of wanting something other than what I’ve got.
Bob – To me, generally happy and not so overwhelmed with life’s day to day.
Jane –An inner peace. Regardless of what’s going on outside. ‘Peace I give into you…not of this world’
Shauna – Happy with your life and all that you have…both material and immaterial.
Keri – Satisfied
Annette – Content to me means that you are happy with what you have. You are not overly envious of something someone else has or for something you don’t have. You can see everything as a gift from God and acknowledge even in the tough times that God is in control. Its knowing fully that what He says in His Word is true. Jer. 29:11 is my verse to live by.
Matt – has a long post here, but his wisdom is worth it..
- Shelli – I try to take everyday the way God gives me!! Cold rainy warm sunny and feel blessed. We are not promised tomorrow so let’s make the best out of the day we have!! The painful hard times draw us close into God’s arms. Although my human condition sometimes draws me into the whys and anger!! After I get over myself, I try to look at it as big picture
- Patricia – Content, in my mind, can be good and bad. Content in what has been allowed for you and accepting it is all in God’s plan. But when you get content with what you have and don’t strive for more that can also be a downfall. I want to always want more. More blessings, more things to testify to, more chances to bring people to Jesus and more time to do it for. Better, better everything, better relationship with God, better faith in his word, better understanding that it is all in his hands and so forth.
- Beth – I think we are called to be content (acceptance with joy) with God’s plan and provision. But that should never stop us from striving towards increasing our Christ-likeness. I guess we are called to contentment in circumstance and possessions but not character.
Also contentment is not walking around with a big smile plastered on your face and singing “Halleluiah” about everything. It’s just a trust thing that good will come from the bad and you will be lifted up (if you allow God to do that for you) It’s finding what makes you happy that glorifies God and doing it (like me writing on this blog for 8 years)
It is possible to be content in the messy world around you….you just got to quit
looking focusing at the mess and start looking at your Father and what you can do to achieve contentment.