No matter whether we are enjoying financial security or wondering if you will have a place to sleep next week, things can change either way quicker than we might think. History tells of fortunes lost and fortunes won overnight. Who of us could really cope if we found ourselves in the situation of having nothing next month? I truly hope and pray that nothing like that will happen to any of us. But, what about those now who are homeless and could really use some hope, someone who would comfort them in their heart, with understanding and compassion, someone who will share with them the truth that sets them free? It is up to us to not only learn the words, but have a change of attitude that people will recognize as genuine. So, in what does your happiness truly lie?
I need more than just reading words on which to base my contentment. I need the application of God’s Word into my daily life often so I can have experience to draw on, a foundation that I can base my attitude on. A foundation built upon materialistic principles fails eventually. To get the genuine attitude of contentment and joy we need the right foundation to build upon. That foundation is faith and trust in God, precepts from His biblical truths, and the application of those truths to real-life situations. That foundation never fails because God never fails. We know God is faithful; He is our Sustainer.
Having the right attitude can give us contentment all of the time! Head-knowledge is not enough. In order to have an attitude of contentment and a heartfelt joy in whatever situation we find ourselves we must learn by our experience of trust. Head-knowledge, by itself, cannot give us this attitude that helps us through the inevitable inclement weather of our lives. We need the experience from our time-tested trust in God. We make a decision to follow God; we need exercise in trusting God. The song “This is the Day” off Gordon A. Stamper’s “God is So Good” CD album include these words that ring so true:
You never said you’d keep me from the valley
But you always take me through!
Paul writes to the church in Philippi:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7
“…for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need..,” – Philippians 4:11-12 ESV
Pray about everything you would be anxious about and God’s peace will guard your heart and mind. God’s peace is way beyond our comprehension. Wow! I want to have that enveloping serenity of God’s peace in my heart for whatever situation I find myself in. Let’s examine what Paul means when he writes “situation?” By comparing other renderings we can look at it from different angles. The KJV renders it “…in whatsoever state I am , therewith to be content.” The Syriac, Aramaic (Peshitta) versions renders it “make what I have sufficient to meet my needs.” Paul learned through the revelation of Jesus, and through teachings from the Holy Spirit. Blinded by the light from the glory of Jesus in His revelation to Paul on the Damascus Road, Paul received strong faith and commitment; that was a real attitude adjustment! We get our faith from God too, only not quite so dramatic. The more we exercise our faith the more it grows. We have our sufficiency in Him because God is sufficient for all our needs! Paul would have that experience to draw upon in any situation he found himself.
Can we have that kind of sufficiency in whatever circumstance we end up, be it wealth, or poverty? It’s easy enough to say we are content if we are wealthy and not in need. And conversely, it’s not very easy to feel content when we have nothing. How about when advertisements comes on the television showing us the newest and better technology, that sleek new car or boat, fashionable styles for women, and recreational and sports items for men? Advertising and marketing intentionally want to make us feel inadequate and discontent with what we have, or rather don’t have (their product). It’s not easy to ignore those feelings of being discontent, is it? It’s something we have to work hard at. Becoming aware of their strategy and the psychology used in advertising will help us avoid some of the entrapment. But, better still, we can learn to disregard their efforts by being content in whatever situation or state we find ourselves. Let there be a sufficiency in our thoughts for whatever we have to meet our needs. It takes discipline and time to perfect. But, God is in the perfecting business, and it’s towards that end, through His grace and the Holy Spirit, we labor, grow, and mature as Christians.
Paul writes to Timothy about godliness, contentment, and the dangers of seeking riches:
Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. – 1 Timothy 6:6-11
With the current economic situation we need to have contentment in what we already have to meet our needs. That’s not to say we shouldn’t accept a blessing from God that would place us in a better economic standing. We do need to view life through the filter of the sufficiency of Christ Jesus to sustain us. It really comes down to this, through what lens do you view your circumstances? When viewed through the lens of faith and the providence of God, He gives us the strength to feel secure and content in whatever circumstance we find ourselves. Our attitude is one of contentment.