Contentment Check

Another Christmas has come and gone. Did you get what you wanted? Perhaps, perhaps not. If you’re like me, even if you got stuff that you did want, you’re now on to your list of the next level of stuff you want. There always seems to be more stuff to want. This last week of the year is a great contentment check. Most of us were given something this week. Are we grateful for what we were given or are we complaining because of what we didn’t get?

Hebrews 13:5 has an interesting take on our contentment. The Hebrew writer said, “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have…” Be content with what you have. That is be content where you are. However, does he mean we should be content because of the material goods we have right now? No. Finish the verse. “…be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” What do we have with which we should be content? We have God.

Psalm 73:25 says, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.” I don’t think this verse means it is a sin to claim we want anything other than God. But it does demonstrate what is most important to us. It also demonstrates our contentment. No matter what house, what car, what clothes, what appliances, what computer we have (or don’t have), we are content because the one thing that really matters to us is having God.

How then am I going to spend my day today? I’m going to spend it trying to get closer to God. What will it take for me to be near Him and have Him in my life? It doesn’t come from being good enough. We’ll never make that. It comes from striving to connect with Him. I need to talk to Him. I need to pray. I need to listen to Him. I need to spend time in His word. If I want to get closer to God, I can do so by getting closer to His family. I need to spend time with His other children, my brothers and sisters in Christ. If I want to get closer to Him and have Him in my life, then I need to strive to be like Him. I should just let Him direct me in my steps. His way will work. If I want to be closer to God, then I must increasingly rid of things that keep God at bay.

All of these things help us get close to God. They help us be in God and allow God in to us. Isn’t that what we want more than anything else? Let’s check our contentment this week and make sure it is completely anchored in having God.

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Nothing

The title of this short article is “Nothing.” Vines Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words list the meaning of “nothing” as “not anything.” Read on and note some uses of this word in the New Testament.  

It is used in John 6:12. Here Jesus feeds the multitude of 5000. When they were finished eating Jesus told his disciples in verse 12 to gather up the broken pieces that nothing be lost.

In Genesis1:1, God created the world out of nothing. This is the only way to account for Biblical creation. We have to begin with a self-existent being who created something out of nothing and spoke it in to existence. Man can redesign and rearrange but he cannot create. The understood law of science is, “Something can’t come from nothing”.

1 Timothy 6:7 states man brought nothing into this world and will certainly carry nothing with him when he leaves. Since man can carry nothing out of this world when he leaves, then the real purpose of his stay here is not a quest for the material possessions of life. According to Ecclesiastes 12:13 the purpose of his stay here is spiritual, an opportunity to prepare for another life after death.

1 Timothy 6:6 tells us godliness with contentment is great gain. If we lose sight of this, we will have nothing after this life is over. Deeds in the name of religion without love equal nothing according to 1 Corinthians 13:1-3. If we have not love then we become as clanging cymbals and untuned instruments. Love never fails with kindness and concern. Without it we have nothing.

2 Corinthians 6:10 (ASV) says, “As having nothing and yet possessing all things.” The world sees the committed child of God as sad, afflicted and grieving: yes they may see us this way when some brother or sister is grieving after losing a loved one, but the other side they may not see. We rejoice and are happy when our Christian brothers are happy. This we can do through the comfort and assurances of our faith in the promises of our Lord and his revealed Word. This may appear to the world, by their standards, as having nothing. However to Christians, this faith and source of joy and understanding comes through Jesus and His Word.

Consider Romans 8:18 (ASV): “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed to us after we leave this life.” Therefore if we lose the opportunity to prepare for the life after death we truly have gained “nothing.”

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Contentment

Our country is going through the largest financial crisis since the great depression and is engaged in a protracted war in the Middle East.  In addition to these, each has the daily struggles of life.  We are concerned about our families, jobs, school and the testing of each Christian’s resolve to stand firm in their service to God.  There is much to discourage us, and without the comfort of the Scriptures, we cannot know how to confront and conquer each of these situations.  Christ warned us in Matthew 13:22 the cares of this world could very well choke us to death spiritually if we do not prepare to meet these challenges. 

How should I fight the discontentment Satan stirs in my life?  The way I find most helpful is to look to the examples of the Lord and of His apostles.  Before Jesus took on the form of man, He knew exactly what He would face while on earth and came anyway.  He knew our salvation would never happen without His sacrifice.  His resolve to do the will of His Father led Him to quietly accept the constant temptations, trials and tribulations.  He accepted His separation from God, while taking on our sins, and met the torture and death because He knew what lay ahead for Him, assuming His position by God’s side. He knew His sacrifice would bring salvation to mankind.  He was content in His role.

In addition to the example of Christ, I personally look at Paul as a role model for achieving contentment.  He, like Jesus, knew there was something far superior to all this life offers.  In 2 Timothy 4:6-8, he said he was able to keep the faith, knowing a crown of righteousness awaited him.   In 2 Corinthians 11, Paul lists the sufferings he had endured while serving God and spreading the gospel.  This same man who had endured so much for Christ’s sake tells us in Philippians 4:11-13 he was content in whatever circumstance he found himself.  How could anyone be so strong?  Well, he tells us in verse 13 that he was able to accomplish this and every other thing he did through the Lord from whom he received his strength.  The question I have to keep asking myself whenever confronted by the challenges of life is am I going to try to handle this by myself.  The answer is no, I cannot handle it alone.  Unfortunately, I often forget that and try to make a go of it alone.  More often than not, I will make a complete mess of it and ultimately have to go to my Father as I should have done in the beginning.  In Philippians 4, Paul tells us what to do and what the result will be.  With prayer, supplication and thanksgiving, let God know your anxieties.  While our fellow Christians care about us and our problems, only God can grant us the peace that surpasses anything we can imagine.  True contentment and peaceful lives come with our trust in God and by following His will for our lives as found in Philippians 4:8-9: let our minds dwell on truth, righteousness, purity, loveliness, good and studying his Scriptures and practicing them.  Then and only then will we find the peace of God.  Godliness accompanied by contentment is the source of great gain as we are told in 1 Timothy 6:6.  Paul was content in his role.

If you are struggling with anxiety over financial problems, loss of job or worry about loved ones in peril from war, go to God about it.  The sooner we realize we cannot handle these things alone and that only He has the power to help, the sooner we will experience contentment.  Remember 1 Peter 5:6-7: “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you” (NASB).  Are you content in your role?

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