The Secret of Contentment
10 I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 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. 13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength. NIV
The Secret of Contentment. “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” That is it. That is the secret.
We quote that verse in many circumstances, and I think that is appropriate. We can do anything God leads us to do because Christ gives us strength. His Spirit living in us is our strength and joy. Nothing that comes our way can defeat us. Whether life is good and we have plenty, or life is bad and we are in want, we can do it.
We can do it, but we can not do it. That was part of the message from Louis Giglio in the closing session of the Global Leadership Summit. We can do it, but we cannot do it alone. It is because of Christ in us, the hope of glory that we can face whatever God allows to come to us in this life.
What does it mean to be content in whatever circumstance we are in?
5 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."
6 So we say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?" NIV
Being content in whatever condition we find ourselves is not the same as complacency. It is not sitting down and waiting for the end and enjoying what we have.
We have a Lord who has a work for us to do. He has a plan for us and we are to be seeking that plan and living out the Love and Lordship of God who revealed His great love through the Lord Jesus. He comes to live within us to lead us to something grand and glorious. The path to that glory may take us through difficult times. For Paul it meant being in prison. But he was not discouraged because He knew God was with Him and that He had a mission to carry out.
Life is not about me. It is about God. It is about living for the glory and honor of my Master. It is about following Jesus through the fire, the flood, the den of lions, or the glory of a mountain top experience.
Life is about living for the glory of God, lifting up the name of Jesus, calling all people to love Him and live under His Lordship.
We do that when we stop complaining about the lot God has given us and start thanking Him that we are living and breathing. You can do that when you have an abundance and when you are living with little.
The classic example of living with the little God provides is the story of the children of Israel in the wilderness. God was sending manna every morning and all they had to do was go out and pick it up each morning, enough for the day.
Manna, by the way, means “what is it”.
This was great . . . for awhile, but then, that was what they had day in and day out. Then they began to remember the fish that God had provided back in Egypt. No fish out here in the desert of Sinai. They began to complain and wish they were back in slavery in Egypt.
The Israelites were not satisfied. They were not content. God was blessing them everyday with this manna. He was providing for them, but not in the way they wanted.
Do you find yourself grumbling and complaining about what God has provided for you?
We need to learn to be content where God has us. We need to trust that He will provide for us each and every day. Following Him each day. Looking for the next thing He would have us do.
God does not want us to come to the end of our lives saying, “Is that all there is?” He has a plan for each and every one of us. We will miss it if we continue to sit around acting like our comfort and peace and good health is all that is important. We are here to glorify God
So what is the next step God wants for you?
I listened to the head of the tax department of Uganda this week. She was sharing with the Global Leadership Summit that Rick, Monica and I attended at Southridge.
If I heard her right, then Africa is improving in its position of wealth in the world. They will be moving into what is considered the middle class. That means the average income will be above $1,000.00 per year.
I saw something else this week. It was a testimony of a woman who shared about her secret. She had lived in our nation going through garbage cans to find food.
Do these things bother you? They bother me, a little. I am sure I will be able to shake it off and get over it. But, should I? I thank God for my job, my career, my profession. I love preaching and teaching. I do not consider myself to be over paid. I have more than I deserve. I have more than I need for sure.
I have never had to go looking for food in garbage cans.
How blessed I am.
Listen to what Paul said to Timothy:
1 Tim 6:6-13
6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
11 But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. NIV
Notice that he said people who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap. It is not the rich, or the poor, it is those who want to get rich. It is those who live for things, for riches. Paul told Timothy to be content if he had food and clothing. Having an abundance is not sinful. Having nothing but food and clothing is not necessarily because of sin.
What is important here is our attitude of gratefulness. Are you thankful for what God has provided? Do we recognize that it comes from God?
I believe God is taking care of me because I am seeking to do what He has called me to do. I am so grateful, so thankful that I have a nice house to live in and food to eat, sometimes more than I can eat or at least should eat. You are generous with me and I appreciate you for how God has led you to take care of me. Thank you.
What does God want us to do? Are we content? Or have we become complacent? What does He want from us?
I believe that He loves us and saves any one who calls upon the name of Jesus. He forgives us for all our sin and then begins working with us to help us learn to walk in obedience to Him. Christianity is about trusting God for salvation, but also learning to trust Him to lead us day by day. The admonition to be content is one of many that God has given us in the Scriptures to help us understand the life He wants for us.
Being content with what He provides for us, begins with thanking Him each day for the provision He gives, be it little or much.
Being content does not mean we sit down and wait for heaven. God has work for us to do. We need to be about His business in this world. We need to be seeking Him for direction about what we are to do to bring glory and honor to Him. How did Paul put it, “Godliness with contentment is of great value.”
Godliness, that means, we are living in the proper relationship with God. Living under His authority, listening to Him each day and seeking His guidance for what we are to do with our lives.
Determine to stop complaining about your lot in life and begin praising and thanking God for how He has kept you safe up to this point. Look to Him for the next step you are to take in His grand design. How does our Lord want to use us to bring people to the place where they accept Jesus as Savior and Lord of their lives? You can do this whether you work at Dow chemical or clean toilets at a school.
Trust God to lead you. Trust Him. Love Him with all your heart, mind, soul and strength.
The secret of contentment is knowing that we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength to do whatever He allows us to go through.