“But godliness with contentment is great gain.”
I Timothy 6:6
Solomon with all his wisdom and wealth came to the same conclusion in Ecclesiastes when he wrote: “There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labour.” (Eccles 2:24) This same conclusion is repeated throughout the words of Solomon. See Eccles 3:12, 13, 22 and 9:7-10.
So the Word of God is telling us to get in there and enjoy what God has given. Stop allowing your desires to wander and start fixing yourself on what is before you. Be thankful, count your blessings and leave any increase to God’s discretion. Relax. Be content.
Solomon gives a final conclusion in 12:13 “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” This comes with a serious warning….”For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.”
We will be judged for how we use what God has given us. Are we being good stewards of what we have or are we discontent and unthankful workmen? Are we being wise servants or are we wasting our Lord substance on riotous living? Are we thankful and recognizing God’s blessings to us, or, are we ungrateful and grasping ignoring what true blessings the Lord has given us?
What is the prevailing attitude in your life? Contentment or greed? Judge yourself.
“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Hebrews 13:5
In the 1600’s a man named Jeremiah Burroughs wrote a book called The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment. It is an amazing in-depth look at the different facets of contentment and discontentment. In Chapter Eight he is discussing the evils of a murmuring spirit. He says that God will work to “disengage the heart of a person from all creature-comforts.”
The Bible word “covetousness” is just a big word for greed, meaning desiring things for oneself, or, we might call it desiring creature-comforts. The lives of so many today are totally built around making themselves more comfortable. Be it in bigger houses, cars, more clothes, fame or beauty, our generation seems bent on self satisfaction and that is the total value system. Yet God repeatedly calls us to look to higher, eternal things and not to love this present world. These things are temporal. They have no eternal value, yet, we struggle to live on that higher plain. We place so much value, attachment and esteem on our fixtures that we forget that our soul is the only eternal thing we possess.
Mr Burroughs states, “…it is a sign your heart is glued to the world, that when God would take you off, your heart tears….if you can part with ease without tearing, your heart is not glued to the world.”
I liked this challenge. What do I possess that would tear my heart if it were taken from me? Not counting friends or family, what physical thing do I possess that I just would grieve to be without? That thing just might be an indication of where my heart truly lies and why I feel discontent in my heart. Is my heart is fixed on a temporal idol. Hum?
“And they gathered themselves together against Moses…and said unto them, Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the Lord?” Number 16:3
Yes, I know. The word “content” is not is this verse. Jude 11 refers to this as the gainsaying of Korah. There is strife here. Why? Because Korah was discontent with his lot. He felt that all of the children of Israel were holy and so all of them were equal with Moses and should be allowed the privileges of Moses office, i.e. to lead!
A discontent heart leads us to many miseries and misjudgements. Burroughs lists six.
- You lose a lot of time in wandering, self-focused thought instead of God-honouring meditation.
- It unfits you for service because you are distracted.
- It causes wicked risings in the heart and spirit against God, others and self.
- Unthankfulness reigns.
- It causes a shifting of spirit – confusion and instability.
The Spirit of God enables us to amplify good things and avoid evil things. The devil does the contrary.
- It takes away what comfort you do have.
It would be good to take time to think through these six traits. Start by apply them to the situation with Korah. If you don’t know the story, go and read it in Numbers 16.
Then, look at situations in your own life. Where are you demanding your own recognition? What distracts you and leads you to wicked risings and thoughts in your heart? Can you see that the real source is a murmuring, discontented and unthankful spirit? Don’t allow it to take the comfort you do have. Why not cast it off and choose a thankful spirit?
“I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content” Philippians 4:11
Content no matter what the situation – that is an amazing strength of character. I certainly don’t possess it yet, do you?
We are so prone to try to make life fit to our own demands that we fight against anything that makes us uncomfortable. Don’t try to push us out of our comfort zone. Our generation is so self-focused that we believe that life is supposed to make us happy and satisfied at all times.
Contentment of a richer sort is a learned spiritual art. Burroughs defines it: “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.”
Every condition? Yes. Paul went on in Philippians to say that whether he had sufficient or was lacking, he knew how to be content. That takes real strength of grace. Can we keep a steady way and our head about us when things go wrong? Or do we through our hands up and verbally despair at our situation? Can we see the hand of God in our circumstances and content ourselves that He is in control and has our best interest at heart?
Burroughs said, “…the hearts of men who are full of themselves, and hardened with self-love, if they receive a stroke (an affront to self) they make a noise, but a self-denying Christian yields to God’s hand and makes no noise. When you strike a woolsack it makes no noise because it yields to the stroke; so a self-denying heart yields to the stroke and thereby becomes to this contentment.”
Surely this is a mystery of godliness. Lord, teach me to be content.
“Fret not thyself in any wise to do evil…” Psalm 37:8
I know, again the word “content” is not in the verse, but please indulge me once more. Burroughs makes a point that cannot be missed in our meditation on contentment. Think about this:
“Contentment delivers us from an abundance of temptations…The Devil loves to fish in troubled waters. Troubled, unsettled spirits are vulnerable to temptations and prime candidates for the Devil’s work. Temptations will no more prevail over a contented man, than a dart that is thrown against a brazen wall.”
We might think that contentment is a passive state where we simply allow anything and everything to wash over us. That is hardly the case. Contentment is a solidness of soul that steels the Christian and becomes a great protection. When we are content and settled in our acceptance of God’s will and provision, there is little place for the Tempter to draw us away.
The unsettled, discontented Christian however is always vulnerable to uprisings in the heart and mind. They are always looking around for offenses to come and for strivings. They are pessimistic, envious and ungrateful for the most part. They have not tasted of the graciousness of God and have not yielded their will to Him. They fret stew and wind up angry and more discontent.
God’s will is for all of us to enter into the rest of contentment. He wants all of his children to know that He is a good Father and has prepared every step of the way. There is no reason for his children to be whimpering or crying out. His should be a peaceful family full of love, graciousness and confidence. Contentment is a protector and it comes by knowing you can trust your Heavenly Father implicitly.
Are you a fretter? Is your life full of strife and trouble? Maybe it’s time to surrender your will and content yourself with His love.