Why is contentment so important? The Apostle Paul said he had learned the secret of being content in every circumstance. It seems that if we truly believe our God is big enough to feed the birds and note the number of hairs on our heads, He can certainly take care of us. And if we believe that he is big enough to take care of us, then that should naturally lead to a contented life marked by trust and peace.
We know that there are obstacles and even enemies to the life of contentment that comes from trusting in our Heavenly Father. In reality, we are quick to let the “noise” of the world drown out the “still, small voice” of God in our lives. Each of us also has an “enemy, the devil, [who] prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (I Peter 5:9). In leading our families and living out our own walks with Christ, we need to recognize the ways that our hearts are prone to lose sight of our all-sufficient God. As we said in the last blog post, our hearts are “idol factories”, which means that we are very good at putting something or someone in front of God in our lives. When we are not at peace or content with who we are or what we have, we’ve lost sight of who God is and what He provides.
Below are two of the “contentment killers” that can rob us of the peace of God in our everyday lives:
1) Covetousness. We may not realize the seriousness of a coveting heart. The tenth commandment tells us not to covet. What does this mean? “Covet” is defined as “yearning to possess or have something belonging to another” or “to desire wrongfully without due regard for the rights of others.” Colossians 3:5 reveals that covetousness is idolatry. God knew that a heart that covets is not settled in Him, therefore robbing us of the peace and contentment that is found in knowing and believing Him. When coveting, we are, in essence, saying that God and what He has provided are not enough for us as we look around and crave what others have.
Ever since Genesis 3, when sin entered that hearts of mankind, “a voice has been whispering in every person’s ear that he should have been more…and should have had more…” (Ten Commandments, by J. Douma). One way to combat the sin of covetousness is to first confess it and bring it to God. Then, look once again into the incredible heart of love that God has demonstrated for you through the sacrifice of His son, Jesus Christ. He is jealous for your love, because He loves you. He pursued you by paying everything: “He who knew no sin, became sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). His plan for us is that nothing and no one should get in the way of His lordship and reign in our hearts. He wants a relationship with you, He relentlessly pursues you, and He is jealous for you! He sent Christ to live and to die that we might get that message and find contentment through a relationship with Him instead of striving to find rest and peace in the temporary things that this earthly life offers us.
Former Nazi prison camp survivor and evangelist for the Lord, Corrie ten Boom, used to say, “Hold onto things loosely, because it hurts when God pries your fingers off.” No matter what has had a hold on the affections of your heart—material things or relationships—know that you were designed to have the Lord in the #1 place of devotion as your source of peace and contentment.
Jesus was unfairly arrested, unfairly accused, unfairly tried, unfairly sentenced. Through the torture, beatings, humiliation, the mocking crown of thorns, and the nails that held Him on the cross to die a sinner’s death… through all of this, Jesus Christ pursued you to win back your heart from the idols of this world, to bring your heart to the place of security, trust, and contentment where it belongs.
2) Comparison. How can we be content with who we are and what we have if we are always measuring what others have? That measuring stick of comparison will always foster discontentment. The remedy for our easily distracted hearts is to look to our Heavenly Father. There is an old saying, “Look around and be distressed, look within and be depressed, look to Christ and be at rest.”
Psalm 139 details how “before [we] were born, He knit [us] together” in our mother’s womb. You and I were no accidents in His plan, and neither was any member of our families! He saw us before we were even taking shape in the womb: “Your eyes saw my unformed body” (Psalm 139:16). He saw and knew us, way before any doctor or parents. It stands to reason that this great and loving God, who purposefully made us “in the secret place” (Psalm 139:15), also knows exactly what He was doing when He made us and He knows what we need. Scripture reminds us of God’s omniscience and care; He clothes the flowers of the field, feeds the birds, notices when a sparrow falls to the ground, and knows the number of hairs on our heads (something so trivial that even we do not know it about ourselves!). An old gospel song puts it simply, “the One who knows me best loves me most.”
When covetousness or comparison threaten to undermine your trust and peace in your Lord, remind yourself that God “delights to show mercy” (Micah 7:18). He wants all of us to turn to Him, and His pursuit to win back our hearts took Him into hell itself; he went there so that you and I would not have to spend one second in the torment and hopelessness of separation from Him.
Remind yourself that we are doing better than we deserve, and that His all-sufficient grace is sufficient and it is this relationship that makes our hearts rest and find contentment.
2 Corinthians 8:9 beautifully explains what happened when Christ came and took our place on the cross: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that through His poverty you might become rich.” Life is already very full when we stop to consider our eternal riches in Christ Jesus!
Take a few moments to listen to this beautiful hymn as you reflect on the Lord’s gracious and awesome care, love, provision, and pursuit of your heart, and may the lyrics help strengthen you to find your contentment in Christ alone!