November 5, 2012

Contentment is Learned

After years of faithful ministry, I don't see the results I expect. I am discontent. I have a house large enough to host a church dinner, a reliable car that can bring women to the retreat and Christian friends who show love to me. I am still discontent.

By contrast, Paul speaks in Philippians 4 of being content when he is needy and when he has abundance, when he is low and when he abounds. Paul faced difficult circumstances and, yet, learned contentment. This fact and a recent sermon give me hope that I can make progress in being a student of contentment.

Some women I know express lofty expectations for life. They often seem disappointed, especially with their husbands. I secretly label them as "high maintenance." At this point, I am being self-righteous. In my deepest thoughts, I, too, express unbelief. First, I need to take the speck out of my own eye. (Luke 6:42)

Furthermore, I am learning that God does not want me to have a stoic approach to life. For example, living a contented life does not rule out praying and working for positive change in my ministry, finances or relationships. In addition, I can make my needs known to others. Paul did this. A true test of learning contentment is what I do when circumstances do not change, and I don't get what I want. Do I continue to trust God then? (Job 13:15)

The main emphasis of my life should be conforming to God's will. I am not a prisoner of my circumstances or felt needs; they don't drive or control me. I may see my life as terrible and elevate comfort as my goal. At this point, I am making an idol of my circumstances. Instead, I need to be a prisoner of Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 3:1)

It is scary to trust God because the future is wildly unpredictable. I don't always know what to expect when serving God in my ministry, but I am not left alone. I know that the Gospel of the triune God will strengthen me in every situation to do His will. May I dwell gladly in what He sends. (Isaiah 41:10, Philippians 4:13)

Of equal importance is the cultivation of contentment in pleasant circumstances. The Bible warns about forgetting about God when things are going well.  I need to express gratitude to Him for what I am given. (Deuteronomy 8: 11-20)

Learning contentment is hard work, and I am a reluctant student. But, I pray that I may glorify God by learning my lessons well. 

Many of the ideas in this posting come from "Secret of Contentment," a sermon delivered on 10-14-12 by Rev. Brad Evans. It is available on with this sermon ID 1017121128354.

1 comment:

  1. One of my favorite books on this subject is Jeremiah Burroughs' The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment. In it, Burroughs writes: "[Contentment] is not by having his own desires satisfied, but by melting his will and desires into God's will. So that, in one sense, he comes to have his desires satisfied though he does not obtain the thing that he desired before; still he comes to be satisfied with this, because he makes his will to be at one with God's will."


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