TEEN TREE            OF LIFE

The Secret of Contentment

Part 1

October 17, 2021


Before you begin, ask yourself a very important question: Do you believe that Jesus Christ died on The Cross for all of your sins? If you answered yes, you will need to be sure that you are filled with The Holy Spirit. How do you do this? You name your sins to God The Father in His Son’s Name. This is called Rebound. As a Christian, you must rebound any time you sin. This is taught in 1 JOH 1:9: If we confess [name] our sins [directly to God], He [God] is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins andto cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Now, if you have never believed that Jesus Christ died on The Cross for all of your sins, all you have to do is say to yourself that you believe in Him and you are saved! The Bible verse which teaches us this is ACTS 16:31: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.”


What does contentment mean to you? Webster’s Dictionary defines contentment as: “the state or quality of being satisfied, not displeased.” How many people, including you, feel that way? Would you say you feel “satisfied, not displeased?”


As Americans, we live in a society which allows us to follow our own religion, get an education, express our feelings, and vie for any number of jobs to live a full life. But take a look around you and what do you see? Discontentment with jobs – wanting more pay, more vacation and time off, along with wanting to work less. Discontentment within marriages which end up in domestic turmoil and even divorce. You see parents complaining about kids because they are lazy, disrespectful and cause heartaches. You see kids complaining about parents because their parents want them to get educated and go to work.


Then there’s the amount of time and money people spend trying to change something about how they look. With all the effort and investment, you have to conclude that they like very little about themselves – hair, face, size, shape, or age. It’s very sad and quite disturbing.


Consumer credit/debt levels are astronomical, yet Americans are still not satisfied with what they have. There is always something more to get. Americans usually find something to complain about in church too. The sermons are too long or too short or too intellectual or too simple.


Never has a country had so much and yet been so discontented. Our basic needs are met, even for those below the so called “poverty” level. So, what has happened? We have become focused on frivolous, unmet desires, especially methods of escape and diversion, in our search to find contentment. Basically, having enough is not enough!


Now in saying all of this, we must also recognize that discontentment is a great motivator. It’s used in most advertising to motivate you to buy products. Your breath is bad, so take this mint and you’ll feel better. Your hair is a mess, so use this product and you’ll be happy with your looks. Is your car all that you would like it to be? Buy or lease this one and you’ll feel better about life. So, society has learned to use discontentment as a marketing too. Think about how well it works!


Discontentment can also be good as a motivator to greater spiritual maturity. Are you satisfied with your prayer life? Your habits of personal Bible study? Your service to The Lord? The desire for more in these areas can and should drive you to obtain what is really needed in order to find contentment in all the other areas of your life.


But should the Christian be marked by the common discontentment that permeates everyone else’s life? Should Christians be like non-Christians in being anxious, angry, jealous, hurt, vengeful, lonely, and discouraged? Should believers feel like they are either missing out on something in life or are just failures? The sad fact is that many professing Christians pursue the same things the world is after in the effort to find contentment and satisfaction in life – higher income, bigger houses, nicer cars, more comfort, exotic vacations, sports, hobbies, continually changing relationships, etc. If you’re on this path, you’re on the wrong one.


No one enjoys being discontent, but spending every waking moment focused on getting more, is not going to bring you contentment. So, here’s an important question: if God wants us to be different from the world and be content (and He does!!) then why are Christians so much like the world, and how do we change ourselves?


Look at what the apostle Paul wrote about being content in PHI 4:11-13 (The Message Bible): Actually, I don’t have a sense of needing anything personally. I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.


            Remember that as Paul is writing THE BOOK OF PHILIPPIANS, things are very bad for him. He’s imprisoned and there are people, including Christians, who are purposely seeking to cause him distress. Yet, Paul is rejoicing in The Lord. He has received a gift from the Philippians, and he is using the situation as a teaching opportunity by explaining his feelings about contentment.


Paul explains that he is happy to receive the gift from the Philippians, but it is not because he was seeking after it. He is more excited about what the gift means in terms of the Philippians’ spiritual growth and partnership with him. And Paul uses this opportunity to give them a gift in return: sharing the secret of contentment in all circumstances. The secret is revealed in PHI 4:19 (New International Reader’s Version): My God will meet all your needs. He will meet them in keeping with his wonderful riches. These riches come to you because you belong to Christ Jesus. Notice that what God does will be according to what you need – not what you want or desire.


The first thing you should understand is that contentment is something that must be cultivated. It doesn’t come automatically once you become a Christian. You have to learn God’s Word and grow into Spiritual Maturity for contentment to develop. While there is the most radical change imaginable that occurs when you become a Christian, God doesn’t wave a magic wand and make you instantly mature. He doesn’t “zap” you at some point in life so that you suddenly begin to live a holy life that matches your positional righteousness in Christ. There are many Christians who think that’s going to happen and so they remain passive in their walk with The Lord, awaiting some supernatural anointing which will change them. This is a huge mistake.


So, let’s look more deeply at what Paul tells us about contentment. We looked at Webster Dictionary’s definition at the beginning of this study; however, that isn’t the meaning of the Greek word translated as “contentment” in PHIL 4:11. The word used here is autarkês. It translates as “self-sufficient” and “not needing assistance from the outside.” Paul is saying that he has learned to be content, self-satisfied, not needing anything more than what he already had in all circumstances. He’s learned to be content whether he’s suffering adversity or prosperity, whether he’s full or hungry, or whether he has an abundance or suffering need. In essence, what Paul is saying is that he had learned to be in control of his emotions. He was no longer bound by circumstances like a puppet being manipulated by what was occurring around him or even directly to him. He did not need any changes to occur to fulfill the purposes of his life. Paul had learned the secret of no longer being someone who reacted to his environment based on what was going on around him.


Have you learned this secret yet? Or do the things that go on around you determine your response? Stop for a moment and think about how you would respond to being suspended from school for something you didn’t do. Or what if someone stole your brand-new bike? Or what if your best friend started dating your ex? Or what if you had to babysit every afternoon so that your mother could work, and this meant you couldn’t hang out with your friends? Could you still be content in these situations?


Consider what Paul wrote some 5 or 6 years earlier describing some of things he had suffered. 2 COR 11:24-28 (New International Reader’s Version): Five times the Jews gave me 39 strokes with a whip. Three times I was beaten with sticks. Once they tried to kill me by throwing stones at me. Three times I was shipwrecked. I spent a night and a day in the open sea. I have had to keep on the move. I have been in danger from rivers. I have been in danger from robbers. I have been in danger from my fellow Jews and in danger from Gentiles. I have been in danger in the city, in the country, and at sea. I have been in danger from people who pretended they were believers. I have worked very hard. Often I have gone without sleep. I have been hungry and thirsty. Often I have gone without food. I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, every day I am concerned about all the churches. It is a very heavy load. What would your reaction be to suffering these things? Could you be content and self-satisfied in these situations? Remember, the question is not if you would like any of it, but could you be content? Have you reached a level of Christian maturity in which you can remain completely in control of your emotions and reactions regardless of circumstances?

{to be continued}

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