Thinking through Contentment

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By Jeff Foerster

The Sunday before last Pastor Martin spoke to us from Philippians 4 concerning contentment.  I don’t believe it to be a controversial subject, as I have never heard anyone utter, “Contentment, that’s not for me!” Still, those who obviously possess it are harder than not to find. I myself would not proclaim to be a bastion of contentment. I do however have a few thoughts that may help us seek it out.

Contentment requires the following:

Humility — That is, submission to God’s purpose(s). We must be in agreement with the mind of God as He has revealed it to us in His Holy Scriptures. The “greatest commandments” sum this up for us by telling us to love God wholeheartedly and to love our neighbor like ourselves (Mt. 22:36-40; Mk. 12:28-31; Lk. 10:26-28).

Focused striving — This takes place not simply in any desired direction we choose, but requires our submission to God’s desires first (see above, “Humility”). By keeping God first, our efforts and work can take many pleasant and beneficial directions. If He is truly first, when our course is changed we will not be easily rattled as our foundation remains constant in Christ.

Evaluation of circumstances — If you find yourself discontent with your circumstances, I invite you to ask the question, “Is this a direct result of disobedience to God?” If your answer is “Yes,” don’t be content. Through repentance, seek forgiveness and change. If you answered “No,” see “Humility” above.

Patience — It takes time. Don’t beat yourself up if you have been seeking contentment all afternoon, but it seems nowhere in sight. Paul told us that he learned to be content (Phil. 4:11-13). This great man of the Lord was not born with it, nor did he find it an instant gifting, but rather he went through a process to claim ownership of it.

Persistence — Fight the good fight and run the race. Seek after contentment in this life.  God does not tease us with things unattainable. I am convinced He wants all those who call Him Lord to taste of this.

Adoration — God’s magnificent power. God’s merciful sacrifice. God’s unbounded love. Consider these and much more. Ponder His great acts in Scripture and in your life and the lives of others. Spending time on and with God moves our mind, our focus, and our hearts towards contentment. No other circumstance or person can accomplish this. We were created by the Father to be perfected in the Son. Only by lingering here will true rest and contentment be found.

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