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HOW TO OBTAIN TRUE CONTENTMENT PART #1
Many today are wearing themselves out in their futile efforts to find true contentment. This has in many cases led many individuals to get to the point of utter frustration and bewilderment. The reason being, is that even after they obtained that which they thought would give them fulfillment and contenement, they obtained neither.
An airline pilot was flying over the Tennessee mountains and pointed out a lake to his copilot. “See that little lake?” he said. “When I was a kid I used to sit in a rowboat down there, fishing. Every time a plane would fly overhead, I’d look up and wish I was flying it. Now I look down and wish I was in a rowboat, fishing.”
Contentment can be an elusive pursuit. We go after what we think will make us happy only to find that it didn't work; in fact, we were happier before we started the quest. It’s like the story of two teardrops floating down the river of life. One teardrop said to the other, “Who are you?” “I’m a teardrop from a girl who loved a man and lost him. Who are you?” “I’m a teardrop from the girl who got him.”
John sounded the following warning. “15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. (1 Jn 2:15-16).
As we shall see all of the various hindrances that we encounter in this life are linked in some way to the pursuit of these three items, #1. the lust of the flesh, The things that FEELS good. #2. The lust of the eyes, The things that LOOKS good. and #3. The pride of life, The things that MAKES us look good. In order to over comers, when it comes to our personal hindrances and stumbling blocks we must have the victory in these three distinct areas of our lives.
The scriptures speaks of individuals who are consumed with an insatiable urge for carnal pleasures, possessions, and position. "They commit adultery with their eyes, and their desire for sin is never satisfied. 2nd Pet 2:14, (NLT). As we have said, we can place these objects of pursuit in several categories. #1. The things that LOOK good, #2. The things that FEEL good, and #3. The things that MAKE us look good, (We call these three items, the "FLMs" for short). The value of each of these three items varies in the eyes of each person. But we all are affected to a degree by the way in which we pursue these items, in relations to how we pursue a real relationship with God. (more on this later).
People spend millions of dollars every year in a vain effort to find true inner peace and contentment. Others get heavily involved in a certain religious organization, in an effort to find true contentment. In this study we will give you the best advice on the subject for free. The Bible tells us a great deal about God, It tells us about the many ways we need God’s help, and it tells us about God’s willingness to help us. It tells us about how things were in the beginning, it tells about the fall of man in Eden, and it tells us about God’s redemptive work at Calvary. The Bible tells us about the character of God, how God is.
It tells us about the fallen nature of man, how man is. The Bible also tells us how God would have us to be. 16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. 2nd Tim 3:16-17. What makes the Bible so significant in relations to all other religious material, is the fact that it tells us about the future, and the perilous times it will bring, (our present time). The scriptures also tells us how to find godly contentment in the midst of these chaotic times.
The apostle Paul speaks of contentment as something not natural, something that must be learned. The apostle Paul speaks of contentment as something not natural, something that must be learned. In facing various circumstances ranging from abundance to lack, he learned how to be content either way. 1 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. 12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. Phil 4:11-12. GODLINESS WITH CONTENTMENT is a virtue that is often challenged by the mindset of today’s “get-more, be-more” materialistic society. Not that this is new, Since the beginning of time mankind has been dealing with issues of contentment.
CONTENTMENT-- the state of being happy and satisfied : the state of being content . The opposite of contentment is DISCONTENTMENT--Which is difined as a lack of satisfaction with one's possessions, position in life, status, or situation : lack of contentment:. When it comes to a lack of discontentment A T-shirt put it: “All I want is a little bit more than I’ll ever have.” In today’s way of thinking, the world instills in us the attitude, “To be happy, you need more.” That’s the underlying assumption behind all advertising: “You can’t be happy until you own our product. They tell us If you want to enjoy life, then you need this. And you can buy now, pay later, on our easy credit plan!” This mindset is the root cause of much of the discontentment, that is in the world today.
Millions of men—and increasingly more women—spend 60-80 hours a week working. Even on the weekends and during vacations, our laptops are humming and our minds are whirling with thoughts of how to make our businesses more successful, how to get that promotion, how to get the next raise, how to close the next deal. In the meantime, our children are starving for attention and love. And our souls are perishing in a weary and dry land, far away from God.
We fool ourselves into thinking we are doing it for them, to give them a better life. But the truth is we are doing it for ourselves, to increase our self-esteem by appearing more successful in the eyes of the world. This is folly. All our labors and accomplishments will be of no use to us after we die, nor will the admiration of the world, because these things have no eternal value. As King Solomon , who was one of the richest and wisest men that ever lived put it, “For a man may do his work with wisdom, knowledge and skill, and then he must leave all he owns to someone who has not worked for it. This too is meaningless and a great misfortune. What does a man get for all the toil and anxious striving with which he labors under the sun? All his days his work is pain and grief; even at night his mind does not rest. This too is meaningless” (Ecclesiastes 2:21-23).
We have a tendency to frantically try to grasp and possess, the things which will make us carnally happy. In doing we miss out on receiving what God is lovingly trying to give us, which is godliness with contentment.. We struggle to get to certain possession in life, (to be on top, in charge, to be ahead of the game, etc), and in the process, we fail to arrive at the place contentment.
Discontentment and covetousness, will cause us to vigorously pursue and fight for the carnal possessions and positions, of this life. Many do so at the hurt of their souls. Many of us live to consume and simply satisfy self. Today many of us are so focused on the things of this world, that are blind to what God is trying to show us and give us.
James noted that in the early church, there were those who could not find true contentment in Christ. Therefore they made it their lifelong goal to pursue and possess carnal things at any cost. As we saw earlier, James noted this in his writings. 1From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? 2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. 4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. James 4:2-4.
The Apostle Paul, speaking as a prophet, tells us that in the end times, (our time), many will pursue the carnal things of this world, at the expense of their own conscience. This in turn will cause many in our society to descend into a dark pit of immorality, violence, perversion and paganism. Paul labeled these times, (our time), as being perilous. This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2nd Tim 3:1. The word perilous means…… *Hard times *Risky times *Dangerous times *Hazardous times *Hard to bare. Paul asserts that men will be "lovers of self, lovers of money, and lovers of pleasure." People will be "boastful, arrogant, and unholy," and children will be "disobedient to parents."
Not only does the scriptures foretell these events, but Christ tells that in the midst of these stressful and perilous times, God wants those who trust Him, to have peace and contentment. 33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. Jn 16:33. If God knew in advance that all these things would take place, surely He knows how to give us peace and contentment in the midst of it all.
According to the scriptures even if we obtain the objects of our carnal pursuits, we will still never be satisfied. The truth of the matter is, we are all in varying degrees susceptible to the vigorous pursuit of the things of this world. We also know how tiresome and frustrating this pursuit can become. As king Solomon explains, “He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity.” Eccl 5:10.
The good news is that there is help, hope, and rest, which is freely offered by Christ. According to Christ true contentment can only be found in His presence and personage. Not on this but He graciously invites us to come to the place of real contentment. Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. Matt 11:28-29.
The apostle Paul encourages the believers to focus on their relationship with God, more so than on the things of this world. According to Paul if we are willing to do this, it will put us way down the road of contentment. 5 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. Heb 13:5.
Paul recognized that true treasure was not to be found from an abundance of worldly goods, in the applause and acceptance of our peers, or a surplus of happy emotions, but rather from a contented mind. And such contentment was not the distant fulfillment of his carnal wants and likes, but rather it was the realization of the great treasure he already possessed, the earnest of God's Spirit. He rightly knew of the "better and an enduring substance" awaiting him in eternity (Heb 10:34).
Therefore his worldly possessions, and position were in his mind utterly insignificant! Paul tells us that he had learner what was most valuable, and was willing to endure whatever, on the way to the prize. His battle cry being, "I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content." Paul encourages the believers to focus on their relationship with God, more so than on the obtaining of things. 5 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. Heb 13:5.
Contentment vs. Complacency- Before we go into more detail, in regards to obtaining true contentment, we would like to explain that when we speak of contentment, we are not promoting complacency: There is a big difference between contentment and complacency. Complacency: The dictionary defines complacency as having self-satisfaction especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies. Paul tells us that though he was content in whatever state he was in, when it came to His relationship and obedience to God he refused to be complacent..
10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; 11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. 12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Phil 3:10-14.
Jeremy McKeen explains, “To be content does not mean that we just sit back and do nothing because we are “satisfied” with the ways things are. Contentment does not mean that if we don’t have a job, we don’t seek a job. Being content does not mean that we refuse to set goals, work hard, or dream big. Contentment is not tied to inactivity in our lives; it’s tied to trusting God’s activity in our lives. The word Paul uses for contentment literally means to be sufficient. Contentment is the attitude or mindset that who I am, what I have, and where God has placed me right now is sufficient to biblically fulfill the roles and responsibilities.
Mark Ballenger tells us, "One of the greatest dangers in the Christian life is complacency. Contentment in Christ is to be sought after and celebrated. Complacency in Christ, however, is very different. Christian contentment means that no matter what happens, you are fully satisfied in Jesus. Christian complacency means that no matter what happens, you are fully self-satisfied with your current personal effort in pursuing Christ. Complacency is Dangerous for Christians Because It Means You Are Not Growing. Compare the words of Chrsit to certain believers," 15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Rev 3:15-16.
The Bible makes clear that Christians are never standing still. They are either growing or backsliding. After listing some of the qualities every Christian should have, Peter then states, “For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:8). In other words, if you are a Christian who is complacent with your growth in God, you are in danger.
The Danger of Complacency Is that It Causes Us to Live Off Our Past Victories. Christians are to seek Christ, and when we do he causes us to have victories. The danger comes when we begin to rely on our past victories rather than Christ. Complacency tempts us to remember our past laurels while we should be looking ahead to the next battle God wants us to win. So often we can experience the power of God in our lives and then assume because he acted like that in the past he will always do the same in the future. We begin to become comfortable in our faith in a bad way (complacent) when we think of the past and then no longer seek God in the present and future.”
GOOD DISCONTENTMENT???---- Normally, we would say that being discontent is a bad thing, and in most cases so it is. It leads to complaining and bitterness and worry. Being discontent in a negative way, means that we are not finding satisfaction, peace, joy, and appreciation in what God has given us, or some of the life situation, we encounter, that we deem to be uncomfortable. But we must consider the fact that certain types of discontentment is good.
Discontent can be a springboard for positive change. For example if we are living a lifestyle of continual sinfulness, God does not want us to be content and comfortable in this state. It is never the will of God that we be content with things and situations, that are detrimental to our spiritual wellbeing. Compare the words of God, ‘10 Arise ye, and depart; for this is not your rest: because it is polluted, it shall destroy you, even with a sore destruction.” Micah 2:10.” Divine discontent always comes before a positive life change. If we are perfectly satisfied, in sin we will never cry our to God for true deliverance.
Pressing toward the high calling-- God wants us to be content in Him, but not content if we are not living according to His will. God continually calls us to come up higher. As strange as it may sound there is such a thing as good discontentment. As Winfree Brisley explains, “In Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis famously wrote, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” This fallen world is fundamentally dissatisfying. As Lewis explains, “Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy [our desire], but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing.” This is where we often go wrong. When earthly pleasures don’t satisfy, we dwell there rather than hope for something better.
Our dissatisfaction has a purpose, then. It points to “the real thing” we desire. We should be discontent (to a certain extent) with earthly pleasures. If they’re satisfying us, then we’re far too easily pleased. The problem of our discontent is when we believe earthly gains solve our inner desires. It leads us to covet what God has given others, and we become ungrateful for his provision in our own lives.
Instead, Lewis says, “I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that other country and to help others to do the same.” By taking time to understand our desires, we find what we really want is something only heaven can offer. Instead of grumbling about what’s lacking, we anticipate the fullness and satisfaction we’ll enjoy there—and we encourage others to do the same. Our discontent with this present world nurtures our desire for the next. And we can be thankful: though money can’t buy true happiness or heaven, Jesus bought us both."
God loves us, and He wants us to find true contentment in Him: But He does not want us to be content away from Him or in our sins. Nor does he want us to be content with spiritual mediocrity. Paul describes the life of the believer as being one of godly contentment and persevering in Christ. Paul defined his efforts in Christ to be those of pressing toward godly perfection. 13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. Phil 3:13-15.