Thursday, August 29, 2013

...but how can I be content?

Everything in our lives threatens our ability to be content. We daily pour our time, emotions, and talents into this quest for contentment. But what is the true meaning of contentment, and how do we get there?

The state of contentment is simply the state of satisfaction. Too often we set out on the never-ending cycle of waiting for happiness and a feeling that's better than what we already have. You get a nicer house and immediately start looking at how nice your neighbors’ houses are, or the faults in the house you have.

Even the most basic steps in life of growing older are a set up for always wanting the next best thing. As a young teen nears the end of grade-school, they can’t wait for the new excitement of high-school... only to find that as their time there comes to a close, they want to leave the house or go off to college.  And it does not stop there. Whether they wish to jump into the chosen line of work, or yearn to build a family- each step of life leads us to think that we’re not quite there yet (at happiness).

Social media may be great for keeping in touch, but I’m sure the devil laughs at how easy we have made it to bring jealousy of others upon ourselves. Hollywood, commercials, and general media has unleashed a barrage of all the things that we COULD have or COULD be.

Other than cutting ourselves off from today’s accepted world, how do combat all the temptations of greed thrown our way? Is it wrong to want something new, or strive to be something better? I don’t think it is, however the thought process from one point to another is the true key to contentment. You can read about contentment and the thought process from great writers of every century, but everything we need to know is in the Bible.

Psalm 16:11 You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
- God has a plan for us. He gives us a road map to life, outlined in His Word. This alone should bring us peace, simply knowing that God knows where we are, and it’s part of His plan.

Deuteronomy 6:5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your thoughts.
- If we first take all of our focus and energy and turn it to our amazing God, then we can know that we are not alone on our journey to contentment, but that He is there holding our hand along the way.

 Matthew 6:31-33 Therefore do not be anxious and worried, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But FIRST seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you.

-It is in our natural sinful nature to worry about our needs. Know that God sees our needs, and as our loving Father will make sure we are taken care of. He takes this worry away and offers peace and provision for us, His children. When we set out to learn all we can about our Father and His will, we can rest with the knowledge that our Fathers perfect love would never see His children harmed.

Philippians 4:12-13 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.  I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.

- Paul speaks of his own journey to contentment. No matter what his current place in life, he realized that it is solely through God that he has the strength to be happy and continue on.

 Matthew 7:7 Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you.

- Too often Christians site this passage in an attempt to ease their guilt of wanting more. I believe the true meaning of this passage, in order to calm and assure us is this: When you ask God for something, what are you really asking for?  i.e. A new car, is really a request for transportation. A new house, a request for shelter or space or even a better position in society. After examining our lives and possessions we will often find that God has not only provided us with our needs, but in most cases has gone above and beyond to include countless blessings. He has never-ending wisdom to know what we need, and what we don't need.

Even though the Bible has given us the outline for a content life, we stumble into the greed and jealousy that is all around us. We look at our situation and we say “This sucks.” It’s times like these that we need to look with an open mind at the problem. When our focus is on God, we can better see that we have so many blessings that the world views as human rights.  The world pushes the agenda that we are all equal and therefore all deserve the same things. The world is only right when you realize that we are all equally sinners, deserving of nothing but death, and knowing this we can see that anything above death and eternal punishment is a blessing from God.

With so many blessings from such a wonderful God, we should strive daily to know Him better and to use the talents and gifts He has given in such ways to bring Him glory and thanks for all He has provided. When your life goal is to give praise and thanks to God, contentment for all you have will fall into place.

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