May 29, 2020 | by: Chris Kiiskinen | 0 comments
Contentment is something that God teaches us to seek after. But it is certainly something that can be very elusive, can't it? The world is trying to tell us that we need this or that in order for our lives to be complete. Then as soon as we get that, they are busy pointing us to the next latest and greatest thing that will make everything even better! It's a never ending cycle.
Even for the Apostle Paul, he said that contentment was something that he had to learn, it wasn't just something that he instantly felt when he began to follow Christ. In the same way, we can and do struggle with contentment, and during this time of shelter in place, it can be greatly magnified.
In this article, I'd like to share with you 8 principles that I believe can help us learn to be content, just as Paul did, no matter what circumstance he found himself in. Remember what he said in Philippians 4:11-13, when he wrote...
"Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me."
Paul's secret for being content was rooted in his relationship to Christ. He knew that Jesus was the basis for his strength to be able to be content in any situation that he found himself in. Here are some of the principles that probably helped Paul, and can be helpful to us.
Passage: James 4:1-3..."What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions."
Application...James teaches us that what will sometimes cause us to be discontent is desires for more. Wanting what someone else has. Sins like covetousness or selfish desires lead to other sins and will cause us to not be content with our situation or what we have.
So examine your desires. Are they godly or are they selfish? What are your desires rooted in? Do you have expectations that are unreasonable or that are rooted in YOUR desires? What we sometimes need to do is reduce, or even eliminate, desires that will lead us to sin and a lack of contentment, and not expect that God is here to grant us all of our wishes.
Passage: Romans 8:28...And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose."
Application...If we truly believe God, taking His word as reliable, then we must believe that He will use even our trials for His good purposes. The hard part for us is when we are going through those hard times, but that is when we need to return to this truth the most and remind ourselves that He is in control of all things, and is using them to accomplish His purposes, even the things that, to us, might seem like there is no good to be found in them.
James says the same kind of thing when he teaches us that God is using our trials to complete and perfect us. We must humbly remember that we are not God and do not know His mind nor plans. And don't forget that we are here to fulfill His good purposes, not our own.
Passage: Philippians 4:9..."What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you."
Application...God calls us to be people who put into practice the things that we know. We are to learn what is godly and then practice those things. The result of that, Paul says above, is that the God of peace will be with us.
A natural result of that should be a growing contentment, because we will be finding fulfillment in our relationship to Him and not needing our circumstances to change in order to have peace and joy. Remember that Paul wrote Philippians, a book full of encouragements to be joyful, from prison!
Passage: Luke 22:41-42...And he withdrew from them about a stone's throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, 'Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.'”
Application...When Jesus was in the garden, before going to the cross, he prayed to the Father asking that if there was another way to accomplish all that would happen through the cross, to let that be what happens. But he submitted his will to the Father's will.
We need to practice this regularly. It's okay to let God know your requests and desires in prayer, but it is even more important to submit our will to His so that we are not demanding that He do what we want, rather, that we do what He wants...even if that means our suffering.
Passage: Ephesians 1:3-14...that's a longer passage so I encourage you to go read it now and notice all the things that we have been given in and through Jesus.
Application...It's important for us to always remember all that we have been blessed with, simply in our relationship to Jesus! There are so many rich blessings we have that we sometimes neglect or ignore. When we do that, we will always struggle with contentment and find ourselves wanting this or that, never being satisfied. But the reality is that we should be satisfied always, because of Christ.
Thinking about these blessings regularly is important because...as you have heard me say often...the way you think affects the way you act! It always does.
Passage: Lamentations 3:22-23..."The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."
Application...It is important for us, as we seek to learn to be content, to never forget that God's mercy to us, rooted in His love and faithfulness, never, ever ceases! He has mercies for us every day. Do you believe that? Maybe it's hard for us to see those things because we are caught up in looking for the solution that WE want to a circumstance, rather than looking for what God wants or is teaching us through a certain situation.
Did you wake up breathing this morning? There is your first mercy...now start counting up the rest of them and be encouraged. Don't forget the things you may take for granted.
Passage: 2 Corinthians 4:17..."For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison..."
Application...Paul, again, reminds us that, not only is our time on this earth short, compared to eternity, but he also reinforces the understanding that God uses our afflictions in some way to prepare us for what is coming. He pushes us to remember that we can't even comprehend the "eternal weight of glory" that we are headed for.
The hard part for us sometimes is that we don't know HOW God is using those things. But notice how Paul describes them...he calls them light and momentary. Compared to what God has in store for us in Heaven, even our hardest trials here are light and they are far from eternal. Trust that God is using your difficulties to prepare YOU for what He has for you later. This will help build contentment also.
Passage: Hebrews 11...another long passage, so please read the chapter and consider all those that are talked about and what they went through.
Application...Another thing that can help us to be content is to remember that we are not alone in our struggles. Though we can easily feel alone and that this trial is only happening to us, God gives us many examples of believers going through various trials. We need to read about those who have gone before, experiencing many types of difficulties, and be encouraged. We see some examples of those who were content, as well as some who were not content...and we can see how each of those situations turned out. Learn from them!
Even today, none of us are alone in going through this by ourselves...even if we are, literally, by ourselves. We may have different circumstances, but God is the God over all of them, and He is using them for His purposes and glory, as well as using them in each of our lives as individuals, to accomplish in us, exactly what He desires.
So as you may be struggling to find contentment during this season of our lives, consider these reminders from Scripture that will help us to battle to be content. God is good. He is working. He has plans that will not be thwarted. He loves you. He is preparing you for glory. His blessings are abundant every day.
Our time is short on this earth, don't get caught up loving this place and finding yourself just wanting more and more and more. This world and its offerings will never bring contentment. Only Jesus does that! Seek after Him. May He teach us all to be content, no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in...because we have Him!
Blessings in Christ,
Chris Kiiskinen is a Pastor at Grace Bible Church
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