“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.” Philippians 4:12-13
Contentment is a wonderful thing. But what is genuine contentment and how do you cultivate it in your life?
Jeremiah Burroughs, the Puritan preacher and author of The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, describes contentment this way: “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.” Think about that for a minute and it will begin to make perfect sense. It has also been said, “When you are discontent, you always want more, more, more. Your desire can never be satisfied. But when you practice contentment, you can say to yourself, ‘Oh yes – I already have everything that I really need.”
So how do you develop this kind of attitude. Here are a few things that i have learned over the years that perhaps will be helpful…
1) Cultivate a grateful heart – Thank God for what you do have right now , rather than grumbling about what you don’t have. Thank people everyday who come across your path for things that they do and ways that they serve you. People appreciate appreciation! Gratefulness fuels contentment. More and more our society is becoming a society of entitlement. We, as believers, need to model for the world what it means to be grateful for the incredible blessings that we experience everyday. And if you are not aware of these then you are not looking very hard.
2) Cultivate a fierce trust in the sovereignty of God – What I mean by this is that we must acknowledge that God is in control – even when it appears that life is out of control. And we must cling to the promise that “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28). And we must confess that God “has chosen us before the creation of the world.” (Ephesians 1:4) And we must delight in the fact that “we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works.” (Ephesians 2:10) And we must worship Him “for in Him all things were created….all things have been created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together….”. (Colossians 1:16-18) Believers are not fatalists. Rather, we believe that God has a plan and a purpose for everything and that He will accomplish His purposes. He is in control. A strong grasp of the sovereignty of God fuels contentment.
3) Cultivate a daily recipience of the strength that God provides – We live in a self sufficient culture. But what we believe is counter cultural. We are taught to rely on ourselves (or the government) to muddle through this life. But as Christians we confess that we are needy people. We can’t do it on our own. We must have the strength that God provides through His Spirit if we are not just going to survive but to thrive in this world. Our prayer each day should be something like this: “God, today would You give me the strength and the courage and the grace and the compassion that I do not have on my own. Would you fill me that I might be used to display Your goodness and Your glory to those around me. I confess my need for You and my dependence upon You.” A daily recipience of the strength that God provides fuels contentment.
“Live near to God, and so all things will appear to you little In comparison to eternal realities.–” Robert Murray McCheyne
May you and I enjoy the contentment that comes from God as we freely submit to and delight in God’s wise and fatherly disposal in every condition.