Little Micah is a sweet little guy about 9 months old. He smiles when I see him, making sounds of contentment … until I pick him up and carry him where his Mom is out of sight. He doesn’t cry but the wordless sounds reveal that his heart is anxious. He wants his Mom. When she is in sight, his little world is all right and he is content. So what’s your idea of contentment? Would your friends and family describe you with the word ‘contentment?’
Paul was inspired by the Spirit to encourage us with these words: “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” (Philippians 4:11-12, NIV) Can you say that of your life?
Before I explore the idea of being content further, let me tell what it is not. Complacency is not the same thing as contentment, nor is apathy. Some give up on effort choose to live in a mess, literally and/or figuratively. They may seem to be at peace with the disarray, untroubled by the weeds and junk that clutters their lives, unwilling to pursue excellence in much of anything. Is such happy ‘contentment’ a good thing? Perhaps it is in the short term. Such a person is easier to be around because he makes few demands of himself or anyone else. But, eventually disorder becomes decay.
The apathy that masquerades as contentment has real consequences. Proverbs is direct about it. “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest— and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man.” (Proverbs 6:10-11, NIV)
Jesus spoke to a group of complacent, self-satisfied Christians with this stern rebuke. “Since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth! You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. So I advise you to buy gold from me-gold that has been purified by fire. Then you will be rich. Also buy white garments from me so you will not be shamed by your nakedness, and ointment for your eyes so you will be able to see. I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference.” (Revelation 3:16-19, NLT)
So, what is contentment?
Contentment grows out of faith that knows that God is sufficient for my every need, which leads to an acceptance of what God provides! Like that baby I mentioned in the opening who is contented when his Momma is in sight, we can live contentedly when we are worshipping, loving, surrendered people who know the Presence of the Spirit in our lives.
We can be broken-hearted over our circumstance and still be contented by the God of all comfort!
We can be facing critics on every side and still be contented because we know His love is richly given to us!
We can be confronted with financial straits and yet be contented with the little we have because of the assurance that He will provide what we need, if not what we want.
We can be fighting the very demons of Hell and experience contentment because He said, “I am with always, even to the ends of the earth!”
Paul, though a Spirit-filled man, went through life’s up’s and down’s. Some days he was hero (even thought to be a god by some pagans!) and some days he chased out of town like a criminal by the local authorities. Sometimes he enjoyed the esteem of the churches he taught and sometimes they ignored him and followed smooth talkers! He felt the joy and the pain equally. Yet, his life remained constantly committed to the Christ he loved because his true contentment was not circumstantial, but fixed on a Person greater than this world.
A moment ago, I quoted his witness to contentment, not just ‘happy talk,’ but the truth about his life. Here it is again. “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” (Philippians 4:11-12, NIV)
Christian friend have you allowed the deception to overtake you that you would content if only l… you had more money, you lived in Florida, you had a different job? Do you think that God is good when life is good and that God is unworthy of your love when things go wrong? Do you do what is right when you are at peace, but ignore things like worship, prayer, or Scripture intake when you’re life is full of problems?
A Christ-centered person will experience the full range of emotions
and yet keep his commitment intact,
for he will be contented with the love of His Savior.
Contentment is not external, not outside in,
but rather inside out,
the result of a new mind that is settled
in the sufficiency of Jesus Christ for every need!
A last thought today before I close. Contentment will not found by trying to ignore our sorrow, our sins, our pain, or our problems. We must live in reality, dealing with life as it is – the good, the bad, the beautiful, the ugly. We can be content when we take those things to our loving Lord, who shares the burden and blesses with peace.
The word from the Word is a familiar passage. Read it prayerfully, asking for faith to live the promise. Stop fuming and fretting and focus on the fullness of His care. “Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:5-7, NIV)
Now that’s contentment.
Far away in the depths of my spirit tonight
Rolls a melody sweeter than psalm
In celestial-like strains it unceasingly falls
O’er my soul like an infinite calm
Peace peace wonderful peace
Coming down from the Father above
Sweep over my spirit forever I pray
In fathomless billows of love
Ah soul are you here without comfort and rest
Marching down the rough pathway of time
Make Jesus your friend ere the shadows grow dark
O accept this sweet peace so sublime
Warren D. Cornell | William G. Cooper
© Words: Public Domain