Character Trait No. 10
Definition: Understanding and accepting that God has provided everything I need for adjusting to circumstances around me.
“Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstance that I am.” Phil. 4:11
After the death and destruction of his children and property, Jonah worshipped God, saying:
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away.” (Job 1:21)
Paul, with perhaps this true story in mind, likewise wrote the young evangelist, Timothy:
“But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. For we brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out it either. And if we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.” He also went on in Philippians 4:12-13:
“I know how to get along with humble means and how to live in prosperity. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry; both of having an abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” The pagan Zeus and Hermes worshippers of Lystra were told by the apostle: “...in that God (the Creator) gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness. (Acts 14:17b)
Two points here:
- God is the provider of “every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift.” (Jms. 1:17)
- We must be content and grateful for whatever God grants us and thank Him.
We live in a frenzied consumer age. With Internet, limitless possibilities exist for shopping with your laptop until you “drop” from your own lazy boy chair at home! New improved products – always slightly more costly, of course – are created daily and (of course), we gotta have them...now. So personal credit card debt exceeds even America’s monstrous national dept of over 5 trillion plus dollars – 5,000,000,000,000!! Cheap paper dollars, actually hardly worth the paper their printed on, flood the market. Speculating investors in a bull stock market keep edging the Dow Jones index into the stratosphere. Buy, BUY, BUY – get it now and pay later. When the time for settling accounts for this prolific spending spree finally arrives, our children and grandchildren will reap what we sow. The worldwide Great Depression of the 1930s might seem like the “good ol’ days” comparison.
It all boils down to self-control and inner satisfaction from spiritual source. A content person doesn’t really need anything but Jesus. Impractical dream-world idealism of hippy Jesus freaks, you think? Paul was both practical and intelligent, and he shaped the Western world more than any other individual, Jesus exempted. And he wrote that he was content in any and every circumstance.
The lusts of the flesh and the eyes, and the boastful pride of life all wage war against Christ-centered contentment. Fads, styles, and trends all promote discontent. Cultural pressure to conform to these things mold the average Joe into a very discontent individual. Programmed by highly effective advertising professionals, he thinks within himself: “ I must have a new car, house, and yes, even a new improved younger wife.” (Note all the divorces). Such discontent drives the consumer economy ever forward and upward. It also keeps people in perpetual debt bondage and in the rat race of keeping up with neighbors. Satisfaction guaranteed is promised, once you’ve acquired the latest techno-wonder gizmo that massages your back, picks your nose and psycho-analyzes your hang-ups, all at the same time. When will we ever learn?
As for this “rat”, I have no intention or desire to be some corporate giant’s stooge – “market niche”or just another consumer with credit card-osis disease. I refuse to run in Satan’s rat maze any longer. Let’s declare our independence, our Emancipation Proclamation from such foolishness. Cut the puppeteer’s strings, ‘cause this ain’t no Muppet Show, and you ain’t no Kermit the Frog. If Satan can’t jerk you around on the strings of your desires, then truly the Son of Man has set you free indeed.
How to be a content person:
- First, you need the Holy Spirit to fill you. Everyone is truly empty until then, and there can be no lasting true satisfaction until that void in your life is filled.
- Cultivate self-control. Put off urges to acquire new gadgets and luxury items.
- Be always grateful for everything – like clean, safe water. A sunny or rainy day. Friends – even enemies. “In everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (I Thess.5:18) If you’re having trouble with this one, come visit us in Ghana for couple of months! : )
- Take pride in your “low condition”. Be independent and tough minded, and delight in good stewardship, suffering deprivation and hardship like a good soldier for Christ. Be lean and mean! (“Have toothbrush, tin cup and knife and fork, good to go.”)
- Keep meditating on the future glory and riches that you’ve stored up for yourself in heaven.
- Give generously. Believe it or not, big givers are the most content people. Try it, you’ll like it.
- Take all financial and other worries to God in prayer. (Phil.4:6-7) Prayer works wonders!
- Have the serenity to accept any condition that you cannot change. Give it to God.
True contentment is know that all is well because the Captain Jesus Christ is safely piloting your ship home to glory, safe and you’re secure in the Master’s hands, like a well-fed child slumbering peacefully in his mother’s warm arms. BE CONTENT!