From the desk of an Overcomer:
"For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world -- our faith. Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God." I John 5:4,5
(3528 - nikao - conquer, overcome, prevail, get the victory)
Thursday, November 20, 2014
Contentment Produces Gratitude
"But godliness actually is a means of great gain
when accompanied by contentment.
For we have brought nothing into the world,
so we cannot take anything out of it either.
If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content."
I Timothy 6:6-8
How quickly does the weather steal our contentment?
What are you talking about, Kristen? It might steal our joy temporarily, but not our contentment…we're not that shallow!
Hmmmm…perhaps I am wrong, but from the response to our local weather both written and verbal, I might have a case. In addition to weather, there are many other things that steal our contentment, right? People can steal it, situations can steal it, illness can steal it, and even a well-placed accident by a beloved pet can make us long for the days when we didn't have to worry about well-placed accidents.
And now we have a holiday approaching - one where we're supposed to be thankful, but thankfulness is really hard when everyone is stealing your contentment. It's hard to be thankful when people are lying to you, your boss is grumpy, the bridge is under construction, you've already got the Michigan crud, your kids won't stop fighting and in general you really don't like yourself very much. What you need is new friends, a new job, a new town, a new set of lungs, different kids and a new personality. Then you'd be content which would make you thankful for what you have.
If you find yourself struggling with contentment today, I want to push you a bit and assert that contentment is not something that can be stolen. If it was a possession that could be taken from you, then that would make you a victim of theft. But it is not a possession, it is a choice. Let's let Paul lay this out for us:
"Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself!Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me.And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong." II Corinthians 12:7-10
(Paul chose to be content, even during difficult times, because he set his eyes on Christ and in his weakness, Christ's strength was sufficient - Jesus was his treasure and Jesus was his strength.)
"But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity.Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." Philippians 4:10-13
(Paul chose to be content in whatever circumstance he was in because in all things Christ again was His focus and His strength - Jesus was his treasure and Jesus was his strength.)
"But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either.If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction.For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate,that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ,which He will bring about at the proper time—He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords,who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen." I Timothy 6:6-16
Paul needed very little to be content - he knew that longing for things he didn't have was only a snare that would lead to harm and grief. But what I love about this last passage was where Paul placed his mind - Jesus truly was his treasure and his strength.
This year, especially with all the snow we've gotten, we all have a great opportunity to choose contentment. Rather than believe we are victims in this life, let's choose to set our eyes on Jesus and trust that wherever we are and whatever we're doing, He's right there with us. Let's put on contentment and not long for what we don't possess.
Rather than have a spirit of complaining, let's be thankful for our jobs, our town, our friends, our children and the life God has given us. Let's praise the Lord for such a great salvation and for His Spirit who comforts us in need, explains the Word to us when we don't understand, prays for us when we're struggling and produces life-giving fruit in us when we walk close to Him. Let's be content with our homes and our children, stewarding what God has placed in our care with His strength and for His glory.
If Jesus is your treasure and if Jesus is your strength, then contentment will be an easy choice for you - you already have the BEST thing! And once you are content, gratitude will freely flow…I pray that this Thanksgiving will be one filled with true gratitude and contentment for you.