At some point, we all get caught up in our own misguided attempts to find peace and contentment by working ourselves to death.
Reminds me of the tycoon who encountered a fisherman just soaking in the sunset.
“Why aren’t you out fishing?” the tycoon asked.
“Cause, I’ve caught all the fish I need for today.”
“Well, why don’t you go out and catch more? Make a profit, buy a bigger boat, hire more men, become wealthy. Then you could just sit and watch sunsets.”
“What do you think I’m doing now?”
Contentment: Found and Lost
We were created by God to be content in our knowledge of Him and the world He provided, as Genesis suggests our first parents were. But when Satan tempted them with the possibility of becoming more than they were created to be — becoming as wise as God — the idea of being just a plain, content, human creature was no longer satisfying.
Ever since, man has been on a search for contentment. St. Augustine got it exactly right when he said, “You have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in You.” True contentment only comes when we reconnect with God through His Son Jesus Christ.
Let’s face it — it’s a challenge to stay contented these days. Physically, we know we’re not one of the “beautiful people” (but would love to be). Emotionally, we live lives of stress, hard work, dirty diapers, and bills to pay (but wish we didn’t). Materially, we’re afraid we’re never going to “move on up to the East side and finally get our piece of the pie” (but wish we would). And spiritually we feel guilty for not being satisfied physically, emotionally, or materially. It’s a vicious circle.
I’m not rehearsing the evidence of our discontent to make us feel bad. I’m doing it to point us in the direction of true contentment.
I believe the most complete passage in Scripture on this subject is Philippians 4:10-20. The amazing reality about this passage on contentment is that Paul wrote it while in prison for his faith. Here’s his key thought: “...I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content...[for] my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (verses 11,19).
1. Contentment is learned behavior. We learn to be content like babies learn to walk. And such an unnatural disposition is only by supernatural grace. With a spouse, good friend, or small study group, you must learn to resist, in the power of the Holy Spirit, the discontentment of our age; or you will be swept up in it and live an agitated life.
2. Contentment is not dependent on circumstances. If Paul can learn to be content regardless of circumstance, we can, too. The same Holy Spirit who indwelt him indwells us. The same fruit of the Spirit — peace and self-control — that were manifest in his life can be manifest in ours.
Discontent desires more — bigger, better, faster, newer, more comfortable. That is deception. If you are not content in challenging circumstances, the contentment you think you feel in other circumstances is not contentment but simply your satisfaction that things are momentarily the way you think they should be.
3. Contentment is a state of being, not a state of doing. Our flesh only feels content when we are doing. Being, however, does not end — it is not tied to activity. Paul said he had learned to “be content,” not “do contentment.”
4. Contentment is based on the riches of God in Christ Jesus. The Bible says that everything we need to complete our journey from earth to heaven will be supplied by God. Therefore, everything we feel discontented about is likely not something we need in order to make and complete that journey.
There’s nothing wrong with possessing things. But there is something wrong if we can’t be content without them. May God speak to your heart and help you seek, and find, contentment in Him.
Dr. Jeremiah is the founder and host of Turning Point for God and senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, California. For more information on Turning Point, go to www.DavidJeremiah.org.