Being Content

Multiple times in the New Testament, the Apostle Paul tells us to be content. In Philippians 4:11, he states "Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have." In Hebrews 13:5, he states "Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."

The world tells us to buy this and you it will make you happy, powerful, richer, more attractive, healthier, more "you fill-in-the-blank". In this digital age, consumers are fooled into thinking they need everything instantaneously. Advertising tells us we must have the fastest smartphone with the most features. Cables and satellite providers try to convince us that we must have the greatest and best entertainment package streamed to our televisions. Ever see the bumper sticker "The one who dies with the most toys wins?"

So why are so many people discontented? Why are so many people searching for contentment? The United States is by far the leading nation in living luxuriously. Do you realize how much of the rest of the world lives without running water? Without a TV? Without internet access? Without a refrigerator. The list goes on and on of things we take for granted.

Think about this statement from the Apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 6:8, "So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content." Furthermore, he states in 1 Timothy 6:7, "We brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can't take anything with us when we leave it." There is no way you can hitch up that U-haul and take your stuff with you to heaven.

"Self-help" books are a multi-million dollar industry. As it turns out, "self-help" books are no help at all. This is because they approach the subject from a self-centered viewpoint. Right from the start, these "self-help" books are doomed to fail. I've got earth shattering news for you. Your life on this earth is not about you. In Mark 8:35 and Luke 9:24, Jesus tells us that if we try to hang on to our life, we will lose it.

Even as Christians we are guilty of not being content. We struggle with this, as part of our sinful nature. We can be discontented with our job, our home, our wife, our kids, our siblings, even our parents. We can be discontented with material things such as our car, our television, our computer, our cell phone, or any electronic device.

In the Old Testament, the Lord supplied manna and quail for the Israelites during their time in the wilderness. The Lord provided everything needed for the Israelites to survive. However, the Israelites began to complain. They began to crave the things of Egypt. They became angry. Numbers 11:1 tells us what happens when they became discontented:

Soon the people began to complain about their hardship and the LORD heard everything they said. Then the LORD's anger blazed against them, and he sent a fire to rage among them, and he destroyed some of the people in the outskirts of the camp.

Did you catch that? If you didn't, let's take a look at Numbers 11:10:

Moses heard all the families standing in the doorways of their tents whining, and the LORD became extremely angry.

God does not like it when we complain about the things he has provided for us. God does not like it when we are discontent. God provides us everything we need to be content. Everything. Sometimes in our efforts to strive to better ourselves and our life, we forget what we already have - what God has already provided for us. In our appetite for material things, we forget about the mission we were put on this earth for.

Truth be told, it is hard to not be caught up in the rampant materialism of this world. The flesh craves what is pleasing to it's senses. In 1 Timothy Chapter 6, we are told to not long to be rich, that the love of money is the root of evil, to not be trapped by foolish and harmful desires that plunge us into ruin and destruction.

So how do not fall into the trap of wanting what the world has to offer? Ephesians 6:11 states "Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes." We must do that every day. And we must not be distracted for even a moment.

Picture a Roman gladiator with his full suit of armor on. Picture him in a fight to a death in the Colosseum in Rome with an enemy trying to kill him. What would happen to him if even for a second he allowed himself to be distracted. It could be that sporty new chariot parked by the entrance. It could be the Roman Emperor's luxury suite. It could be the luxurious palace he sees in the distance on the hill. ? It could be the attractive Roman woman in the front row.

What could happen if the Roman gladiator was distracted for only a split second? He could get injured or even suffer death. Just as the Roman Gladiator cannot be distracted, as Christians we must not get distracted. We could suffer spiritual death or find our spiritual lives hurt. This can happen when we allow discontent in our lives.

We need to look to Jesus first and foremost for our satisfaction. Nothing else.

We must learn to be content. God knows when we are discontented. It does not make him happy.

Being content is a great witnessing tool. When you truly are content with what you have, you are happy and joyful. You walk around a great big smile. Constantly. When people ask you why are you always so happy, it will leave a great opening for telling them how Jesus Christ has changed your life. How he brings great joy. And contentment to your life.

One final thought. Ponder this quote from Timothy 6:6: "True godliness with contentment is itself great wealth."