I did some research this morning. I researched happiness and contentment. Opinions abound about what makes us happy and content. Articles, books, blogs and even songs are written about what will make us happy and content. Why is contentment, and by extension happiness, so elusive? Why do we have such a hard time being content?
Being. Defined as existing, occurring, taking place or occupying a position in space (dictionary definitions online). Contentment is so elusive because it is not an action or a thought that we can control–it’s interwoven into our existence, our occupying space on this planet. It is a choice, but a choice that runs to the core of who we are and how we live.
At least fifteen times the Scriptures use the words content or contentment. Some reference the Old Testament saints and their journey in the wilderness, others are by the Psalmist and the writer of Proverbs. Still others are written by the apostles, such as Paul’s familiar words, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstance” (Philippians 4:12). So, how can we be content? How do we find something so contrary to our culture and so difficult to define?
- Focus. Timothy tells us “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” (1 Timothy 6:6). We must realize contentment isn’t the primary goal to be achieved. Godliness comes first, then contentment. We cannot have contentment without God as the focus of our lives. That is because anything, or anyone, that is greater in our lives that God is an idol, and idolatry will never lead us to be content.
- Fear. Fear the Lord, not the loss of goods, not the changing of circumstances. Proverbs 19:23a says, “The fear of the Lord leads to life, And he who has it will abide in satisfaction…” When we reverence God and give Him His rightful place, He makes even our enemies to be at peace with us (Proverbs 16:7). Alongside of focusing on Him, we must reverence and respect Him. Otherwise, we give lip-service, but our hearts are not free to be content.
- Fulness. When we realize the massive generosity of God in our lives, there is no room for being dissatisfied when things don’t work out exactly as we think they should. Being grateful for His many blessings keeps us from being discontent, disillusioned or displeased with our circumstances (James 1:16-18). Knowing His great love for us, knowing He seeks what is best for us, knowing He has eternity for those who have accepted His redemption–these are much bigger than the temporary inconveniences of what happens here.
We find contentment when we focus on God and living out Godliness in our daily lives; fearing the Lord as we should, and knowing the fulness of His love and generosity to us. It’s not our content that makes us content. It’s how we view the God who gave it all that makes all the difference.
Abba, Father, thank You that contentment is so very deeply linked to our relationship with You that we cannot find it unless we walk with You. Help us to focus on You, reverence You and feel the fulness of You as we exist and occupy space in a new way today. In Jesus’ name, Amen.