How We Live in Godly Contentment
Paul writes in Philippians 4:11b, “I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” Is this not the Christian’s distinct calling and wonderful privilege, that is, to have and to demonstrate true contentment in life? See, for example, Hebrews 13:5, 1 Timothy 6:6, Philippians 4:6-7, and Psalm 37:4. Do you know and glow with Christian contentment in life?
Christian contentment is not only “an embracing of the providence of God,” as one put it, but even more fundamentally, an embracing of the God of providence. Wilhemus à Brakel states in his helpful chapter on this subject that contentment “is not a mental determination to keep ourselves satisfied, but a disposition of the soul ... The stronger faith is, the greater the contentment with the will of God will also be” (The Christian’s Reasonable Service, 3:379-95). Contentment is not to be found in having favorable circumstances and many possessions, but it is found in the triune God alone, and living in union and communion with Christ and in obedience and service before the Lord. Think of Psalm 23!
The lie of Satan as told in Genesis 3 and replayed in history ever since is that contentment can be found apart from God. Have you seen through this deception of the devil for yourself, too? This ungodly world is experiencing the miseries of countless discontentments and fading dreams, living in rebellion and unbelief before God. Confessing Christians should shine forth the gracious fruit of peaceful contentment in our restless world of rampant murmurings. Do you let your light shine with the grace of contentment even in dark and difficult circumstances?
Christian contentment is learned as we genuinely and constantly look to Christ, the Savior of sinners, in Holy Spirit-worked repentance and faith, and so discover what a graciously complete and completely gracious Savior Jesus is. Again, as Brakel put it,
“If you have the all-sufficient One as your salvation, are you then still in need of anything else? Is He not better to you than a thousand worlds? ... Therefore, speak and practice what the godly did. ‘The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in Him.’” Lamentations 3:24
Jeremiah Burroughs wrote similarly in his classic, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment,
“A Christian finds satisfaction in every circumstance by getting strength from another, by going out of himself to Jesus Christ, by his faith acting upon Christ and bringing the strength of Jesus Christ into his own soul, he is thereby enabled to bear whatever God lays on him, by the strength that he finds from Jesus Christ. Of His fullness do we receive grace for grace; there is strength in Christ not only to sanctify and save us, but strength to support us under our burdens and afflictions, and Christ expects (and delights) that when we are under any burden, we should act our faith upon him to draw virtue and strength from him.”
Do you affirm and demonstrate that while looking to Christ and abiding in Him and His Word under the ministry of the Holy Spirit there is no reason for any discontentment whatsoever, but only always true and growing contentment? The Good Shepherd calls His people to reflect a “my cup runneth over” testimony in praise and honor to our triune God and in anticipation of heaven to come. God also promises so to lead His own. Are you demonstrating this holy, happy contentment at home, school, church, and work? What areas in your life can you grow in by having and showing Christian contentment? To move from discontentment to contentment, the Savior calls to us in words based on Psalm 81 (Psalter 431), saying,
“Open,” saith the Lord, “Wide thy mouth, believing, This My covenant-word: ‘I will, if thou plead, Fill thine every need, All thy wants relieving ... Most abundant good – if thou wouldst but prove Me – e’en the choicest food, honey from the comb, wheat the finest known, I would pour upon thee.’”
Praise God who will lead His people in endless and everlasting contentment! All honor to Him, our Savior God, from whom all blessings flow – including real contentment! Consider what Paul says in 1 Timothy 6:6: “But godliness with contentment is great gain.” Are you enrolled in the school of Christ for the gift and prize of Christian contentment? The “God of all comfort” (2 Cor. 1:3) still welcomes more students, in and through Jesus Christ.
For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich. 2 Corinthians 8:9