Contentment - A Mystery?
What does the bible say about contentment? Is there such a thing? Is it possible to attain it somehow? Has anyone succeeded in obtaining it? Let's look into it for a little while today. Let's start with a definition so we all know what we are talking about. Christian contentment is that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God's wise and fatherly disposal in every condition. The english word content is used 5 times in the NASB, another 8 verses where a different greek word is used simply meaning, simply enough, sufficient, and satisfied. Mysterious indeed, to be thoroughly aware of an affliction, and to endeavor to remove it by any means possible, and yet to be content!
We see Paul's statement that he has learned to be content in Phil. 4:11. It did not come naturally to him; he learned it from experience. In verse 12, he says he knows how to get along in the good and the bad times. He knows the One who is behind these circumstances. In the Old Testament Solomon says in Ecc. 7:13-14, "Consider the work of God, who is able to straighten what His hand has bent? In the day of prosperity be happy, but in the day of adversity consider, God has made the one as well as the other." And in Phil. 4:12, Paul says he has learned the secret of how to be content. It is in verse 13. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
English Puritan Jeremiah Burroughs states, “A Christian finds satisfaction in every circumstance by getting strength from another, by going out of himself to Jesus Christ, by his faith acting upon Christ, and bringing the strength of Jesus Christ into his own soul, he is thereby enabled to bear whatever God lays on Him, by the strength that he finds from Jesus Christ." And does not Christ dwell in us to give us this strength? John 14 shares with us in verse 20, "I am in the Father, you in Me, and I in you," says Jesus. And to prove that, in verse 28 Jesus says, "I go away, and I will come to you." The departure of Jesus Christ is in reality the coming of Christ. Verse 28 does not contain the word again, we must strike out that intrusive word 'AGAIN', it is not there. It would not have brought sufficient comfort to the disciples, for that coming again would be too far away.
Jesus departs from us for a short season, only to be with us until the end of the age! Burroughs says, "Every time a godly man reads the scriptures (remember this when you are reading the Scripture) and there meets with a promise, he ought to lay his hand upon it and say, ‘This is part of my inheritance, it is mine, and I am to live upon it.’ This will make you contented, it is a mysterious way of getting contentment." Check Psa. 34:10, 2 Cor. 6:10, Isa. 58:10. And, 1 Thess. 5:18 says, "in everything give thanks, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." For what a foolish thing is this to say, that because I have not got what I want, I will not enjoy the comfort of what I have. Oh let us not be ever learning this lesson of contentment, and yet not come to have skill in it.
Elder Randy Slak