This week I discovered that:
* Santa has elves, but I have Target.
* If my husband really loves me, he’ll buy me a diamond from Kay Jewelers.
* If my son is going to succeed in college, he needs a MacBook Pro.
Oh really? The Christmas season could be called the “season of discontent” for many people.
Our culture thrives on discontent. A healthy economy depends on the discontent of people so they will rush out and spend money on something they don’t have that society says they really need. Advertisements are designed around discontent, and if it isn’t there, an ad will create it.
Richard Swenson comments, “Discontent has so many disadvantages one wonders why it is popular. It can suffocate freedom, leaving us in bondage to our desires. It can poison relationships with jealousy and competition. It often rewards blessing with ingratitude as we grumble.”
The book of Hebrews gives us this command and promise, “Be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you'” (Hebrews 13:5). Regardless of what kind of lack we encounter we are to be content, because God’s presence is enough.
Discontentment means that we are looking to something or someone to fulfill us other than Jesus. It is a signal that our focus in life has shifted off of the only One who can take care of us.
When we buy into discontent, we are unconsciously teaching our children, our neighbors, our co-workers, and everyone who is watching us, that Jesus isn’t enough. That’s scary!
It’s a Secret!
St. Paul tells us that contentment doesn’t come naturally. It is a secret that has to be discovered and learned, regardless of our circumstances. “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation” (Philippians 4:12).
I’m not so sure I want to learn contentment. However I recently took a closer look at 1 Timothy 6:5, “But godliness with contentment is great gain.” Hmmm. Seems that the only way to great gain in life is by combining godliness with contentment. Since I would like to have “great gain” in the area of my relationships, life circumstances, and within myself, I guess I’m going to have to really focus on learning contentment as I grow more and more to look like Jesus (godliness).
Contentment is not compliancy. When you are complacent, you give in to the situation. When you are content, you receive grace to create and grow. According to Titus 2:11, 12, it is grace that teaches you how to live an upright and godly life. I don’t know about you, but if Grace is the teacher, I want to be the student!
Four areas where you can learn contentment
Learn to be content with your income
G. K. Chesterton said it well, “There are two ways to get enough. One is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less.” Guess my desires are going have to change.
Learn to be content with your circumstances
According to St. Paul in Philippians 4:12 (mentioned above), contentment doesn’t depend on circumstances, good or bad. See 2 Corinthians 11:23-27 for a look at the circumstances Paul found himself in when he made this statement. What are you complaining about! Being miserable or unhappy are valid feelings, as long as you don’t let them dictate your life. You can be miserable and still be content.
Learn to be content with your relationships
Are you single and wishing you were married? Married and wishing you were single? Working with people that tick you off? If you are human, you will suffer dysfunctional relationships because we are all dysfunctional at some level—it’s called a “sin nature.” Get used to it. Richard Swenson has said, “God commanded contentment because he knew we would need it to anchor right relationships.”
Learn to be content with yourself
How many of us are discontented with our weight, how we look, our hair cut, or lack of hair, growing older, or ….? We all have feelings of imperfection, but we are not to be controlled by such feelings. Easier said than done—pass the grace, please.
When you choose grace, you choose contentment. It’s a choice you keep on making through every situation of life. Contentment is grace working through you and testifying to the world that Jesus is more than enough.
Want to hear the complete 35-minute message? Click this play icon to listen right from my blog, or download the message to listen to later. (You’ll need to turn your speakers on high, as the volume is rather low.)
What will you choose this Christmas? Will contentment be on your New Year’s resolution list for 2012? It is on mine. Share your thoughts by clicking on the green “comment” below.
If you found this post helpful, please pass it on by clicking one of the “Be Sociable, Share” buttons below.
Susan Gaddis, Helping you build your spiritual legacy