Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Secret Of Being Content

Have you ever met anyone who claimed to be content? I'm not talking about someone who seemed to be content, I'm talking about someone who claimed to be content. It seems it's a rarity, at least in our culture. We've got 2 things going against us who live in the US as far as contentment is concerned. First, like all people everywhere, being content is against our human, selfish nature. As Christians, we need to constantly battle selfishness and greed because Satan keeps tempting us in that area. Secondly, our culture in the US is anti-contentment. Because of our materialistic society, we are always conditioned to desire more and more things. It's the old keeping up with the Jones' mentality. 

Forget the basic necessities when it comes to living in America. We want extravagance. That word means luxury or indulgence. Just look at all the commercials on TV, magazines, and newspapers. It's all about trying to persuade you to buy more and better stuff, whether you need it or not.

By definition, to be content is to be satisfied. And it seems no one is satisfied any more. We're not satisfied with our jobs, or how much money we make, or where we live, or what we have, or our cars, or our house. 

When I visited Tanzania, Africa, there were families living in places we would not even call a house. Some were just plain, small block structures with only openings for windows and no electricity or running water. A lot of these houses were small, family farms where they grew their own food as well as food to sell or trade. It made me wonder, could these people still be content? 

With that being said, being content doesn't mean we must live in poverty. In other words, we do not need to live in poverty in order to find contentment. On the other hand, we do not need to gain great wealth and riches as the means to acquire contentment. Perhaps the real definition of contentment is being glad, being fulfilled, and being ok regardless of the circumstance we are in. Being content, whether one is poor or rich, is having an inner peace unrelated to an outward condition. 

So what is the secret of being content? Well, there is a special ingredient. It's revealed in the passage below written by the Apostle Paul.

"Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:11-13 NASB)

Paul learned to be content regardless of the circumstance. There were times when he had little and was hungry, and there were times when he had much and was well fed. But in both of those two extreme situations, he was content, he was satisfied, and he was ok. Why? He explains the reason. Paul says, "I have learned the secret." What is the secret? How did Paul find contentment no matter what? He reveals the answer in this statement, "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me."

You see, true contentment does not have a direct correlation with wealth. But it does have a direct correlation with God. Contentment does not necessarily increase as wealth increases. But contentment does increase as your relationship with God increases.

And it's true that someone living in poverty can have terrible struggles and trials, but they still can find inner peace and contentment in knowing Christ. That's because there's hope and peace in knowing His love and the hope we have in Him. Just as those in poverty can still find contentment, those who are wealthy can also find peace and contentment, but only through knowing Christ. And furthermore, if we are in Christ, the Spirit of Christ is in us. And that is what gives us the strength and endurance to handle what comes our way.

"For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit."  (Romans 4:17)

There's nothing wrong with being wealthy as long as one who is wealthy is a good steward. However, the love of money should not be our motivation in life, and certainly it can't be our fulfillment. This doesn't mean we should not work hard and be responsible. It's just that life is not about finding wealth, it's about finding contentment.

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”  (Hebrews 13:5)

Another wonderful thing about contentment is that is shows no partiality. It doesn't matter what one's social condition, culture, economic status, intelligence, skill, or race is, the contentment that is found in Jesus is equally available to every person, and in equal quantities.

"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful."  (Colossians 3:15)

Those who are not in Christ may not understand what I've been saying, but those who are in Christ know exactly what I'm talking about.

"Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy." (1 Peter 1:8)


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