How much time do you spend seeking contentment?
If you are like most people (and willing to be brutally honest), you likely use many of your waking hours trying to gain and maintain contentment. Contentment is not a bad thing in itself, but the ways we try to reach it can diverge quickly from God’s methods.
We can trace all discontentment back to the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve, even in the perfection of the Garden and walking in perfect relationship with God, bought into Satan’s lie that there was more to be had because God had held out on them (Genesis 3:1-5). From that single act forward, all humanity has been trapped in the dark, sinful cycle of trying to gain more than we are given. We content ourselves with less than God desires for us and fret over not having enough of what we want.
The biblical perspective is that real and lasting contentment is never circumstantial. The apostle Paul knew this to be true: “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. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:11-13).
Notice that Paul doesn’t deny the reality of his situation. He knows well the pains of hunger and want as well as the comfort of having plenty. More specific to his current state, the letter to the Philippians is written by Paul from prison. He says that he “learned” contentment. It does not spontaneously arise; it is acquired, usually through loss, and pain and acceptance. The view is expanded through the process, yet the focus is narrowed. Paul’s perspective is not based upon the externals, but something eternal, regardless of “whatever situation” might arise.
Paul, you and I — we are all eternal beings. Why would we think anything less than an eternal God could ever satisfy us? Moreover, only a being we can never get enough of can satisfy us completely. We will never run out of things to discover about God. We were designed for an eternity of resting in his inexhaustible goodness.
The problem is that a part of each of us remembers Eden, and we try to get back there by our own means. We are hardwired to find satisfaction in God alone, but we are short-circuited by sin to seek satisfaction anywhere else other than him.
Sometimes people will ask others about the things for which they would live or die. Those questions are too small in scope. You are eternal; you will live forever (somewhere). Your priority must be bigger than your life or death.
The pursuit of fulfillment here will always ache of incompleteness. But the incompleteness we experience here points toward the God who is fully complete, in and of himself, and toward the God who will complete what he starts in all who follow Jesus (Philippians 1:6).
We will live with godliness as we practice continual contentment in God. – 1Timothy 6:6 But godliness with contentment is great gain,
We will have the right, reverential, worshipful approach to God and allow him to grant us satisfaction in himself. – Proverbs 19:23 The fear of the LORD leads to life, and whoever has it rests satisfied; he will not be visited by harm.
We will rely upon God to provide all we need and be satisfied with his goodness in giving. – Psalm 34:10 The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.