Monday, May 25, 2015

Finding Contentment

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.  For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” – James 1:2-4 (NLT)

If happiness had a seed from which it would grow, that seed would be contentment.  Yet few of us have found it.  We continually want for something.  We want for material goods, career success, better health, stronger relationships, rest, peace – the list is endless.  Yet few of us ever find it, and when we do it is most often momentary.  So just how to we find and hold on to contentment?

Paul did it.  He says in Philippians 4:11-13 (NLT) “Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.  I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.  Paul accredits Christ and the strength found by living and abiding in Christ as the key to contentment. 

To fully understand that, we must also understand what happens when we are not content.  In a state of discontent, we find ourselves continually in want, lusting after things we do not and sometimes cannot have.  This leads to a heart empty of gratitude, and self-centeredness.  It also leads to sin as James 1:13-15 says “Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.  Being “drawn away” points to the fact that we are moving away from God.  If our “own desires” draw us away from God, we lose the peace we have in abiding with Him.  Sin is an open door leading to discontentment, confusion, frustration, and want. 

To have contentment we have to live in Christ, abiding in Him.  That’s not the same as having Him as our savior, although you will not have peace until He is your savior (Ephesians 2:14).  Abiding in Christ is a relationship with Him that is first in our lives, given the greatest importance.  Abiding in Christ is when you allow Him to sit on the throne of your heart, and govern your actions, your desires, and your will.  This is where contentment is found.  This is where we have the strength that Paul found, to “do all things through Christ who strengthens me”.

James writes of that same strength in chapter 1:2-4 when he says that when trouble comes, our faith is tested.  If we pass the test, our endurance grows.  Once it grows to its fullest strength, as Paul’s did, we will be perfected, completed, and need nothing.  Active faith is required for endurance to grow, and that active faith can only be found in living with Christ on the throne of your heart. 

Contentment is great gain, but it does not come just because you want it to.  Finding contentment comes by walking through the troubles and trials of this life with Christ.  You can do all things with Him.

More scriptures on contentment:

“Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we may boldly say: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” – Hebrews 13:5-6

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” – Matthew 6:33

And He said to them, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.” – Luke 12:15

And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:19

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” – Isaiah 26:3

“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.” – 1 Timothy 6:10-11

“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” – Psalms 16:11

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