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Contentment: How Much Is Enough?

Contentment is not natural, but it can be learned be content

Contentment is not natural, but it can be learned

Jan Smith

Would you say our society is one of contentment?

One writer had this to say:

  • We spend more… but we have less
  • We buy more… but we enjoy it less
  • We have bigger houses… and smaller families
  • We have more conveniences… but less time
  • We have multiplied our posessions… but reduced our values
  • We have learned how to make a living… but not a life
  • We have added years to life… but not life to years
  • We have done larger things… but not better things
  • We have higher income… but lower morals
  • These are the times of steep profits… and shallow relationships
  • These are days of fancier houses… but of broken homes
  • It is a time when there is much in the “show” window… and nothing in the stockroom

Has the writer overstated the case? I don’t think so. If having more equated to contentment, the entire North American continent ought to be deliriously drooling with happiness. But we’re not. More is not better.

Don’t get caught in this trap!

A reporter once asked John D. Rockefeller, “how much is enough?” Mr. Rockefeller replied, “just a little bit more!”

That’s greed, and greed is the enemy of contentment.

Do you see the trap built into that attitude? If you define success as having “more than I have now”, you doom yourself to failure.

The reason is simple: you can never reach your goal. You will never be satisfied, because there is always more to be had. Like a mirage shimmering on the desert horizon, the goal of “more” will always elude your grasp. It’s a trap in which your failure is guaranteed!

Jesus said, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Mark 8:36)

He also said:

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” (Matthew 6:24)

Only through Jesus can we find a way to have our cake and eat it too. Here’s yet another case where God’s ways stand in opposition to the ways of the world.

The way to get all those things is: seek something else instead:

Jesus said: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)

The purpose of some lives is to serve as a warning. Here’s one of those:

  • First I was dying to finish high school and start college.
  • And then I was dying to finish college and start working.
  • And then I was dying to marry and have children.
  • And then I was dying for my children to grow old enough so I could return to work.
  • And then I was dying to retire.
  • And now, I am dying… and suddenly realize I forgot to live.

How much better to choose contentment as Paul did, and thus live in peace:

Peace and contentment can be yours

When your ways line up with God’s ways, He exchanges your sins, your worries, your fears and your anxieties for His peace

Contentment Must Be Learned

In the “Scripture card” at the beginning of this article, Paul teaches us that living in contentment “above your circumstances” does not come naturally to us. It must be learned.

Notice what Paul says in the Scripture card directly above: “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will (not “might”; WILL!!) guard you hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”!

This isn’t a case of head-in-the-sand denial of the realities of life. To the contrary. Life will always present problems, situations and obnoxious people for you to cope with.

But wouldn’t you agree that it’s easier to handle adversity from a position of peace and contentment, rather that one of fear and uncertainty?

The Supernatural Exchange

When you have surrendered to God — when you’re living by faith in obedience to His Word — and your thoughts are on Him instead of on your problems, an astonishing supernatural exchange takes place.

God takes away your sins from you, and in exchange He gives you assurance of eternal life. He also begins a transformation process to make you more like Jesus, and He begins using you to do His work on earth.

Throughout all of that He gives you supernatural peace and contentment beyond human understanding.

And guess what? The longer you choose to live that way, the more it becomes your normal way of life.

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