How is your “contentment meter” reading today? Is working on contentment in your spiritual walk at a snail’s pace or are you zooming toward the mark? Practicing contentment should be a way of life. It’s human nature to complain, isn’t it? But it takes a lot of practice not to complain.
Paul said that he “had learned” in whatever situation he was in, to be content. I would say that Paul had reached his mark in this area, wouldn’t you? Paul was not just content with parts of his life but with all of his life.
How does one learn to be content? We become discontent when we look at others. When we dwell on our circumstances long enough, we find that we are not content with what we have. If we look around at the house we live in, we’ll see that our neighbor’s house is so much better. If we look at our friend’s car, we’ll see the bucket ‘o bolts we’re driving. If we look at someone else’s position at work, we’ll notice that we do not have the salary he has. When we “look” at our own circumstances and dwell on them, James says that it will develop into lust and this lust will turn into sin. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: (James 1:15) Therefore, our thought life is what we have to bring under subjection.
Some people are naturally pessimistic – their cup is always half empty – their future seems to hold the worse possible scenario. The pessimistic Christian sees the dark side – this Christian needs a lot of work at controlling his thoughts. This Christian needs to spend some quality time meditating on what God has provided rather than what he does not have. The pessimistic Christian needs to count his blessings instead of looking at his negative circumstances.
Paul had the remedy for negative and stinky thinking. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. (Philippians 4:8 ) He controlled his thought life by thinking on good things. So should we. The pessimistic Christian needs to remember that he has a home in eternity awaiting him; he had food to eat today; he awoke in a warm bed; he has a job to support his family, just to name a few. Doing this will keep him focused and on track.
God gives us exactly what we need, when we need it. He only provides us with good things in our lives. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. (James 1:17) When we focus on the good things, which are of the Lord, we are walking in His Spirit. This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. (Galatians 5:16) In so doing, we are not so quick to be discontent, which is sin.
Paul taught about contentment in several churches. It must be a pretty important teaching if he taught it in Hebrews, 1 Timothy, Philippians and Galatians.
Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. (Hebrews 13:5)
But godliness with contentment is great gain. (1 Timothy 6:6)
And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. (1 Timothy 6:8 )
When we meditate on our salvation, we will not be so quick to notice what we are lacking in this life because we will see that we have gained so much for all eternity! Time here is but a moment in the vastness of eternity.