The Secret to Contentment

June 1, 2014 No Comments by mdoyle

Contentment-tree-Salvatore-Vuono-FDP-net“We are poised to believe that all depends on me.

We are purposed to know, that ALL depends on He.”

–  E.D. Mondainé

If my life depended upon what was readily available I would surly perish.  If I viewed myself within the narrow scope of others thoughts towards me I would blindly fade away.  If I give ear to perverted caution and cynicism I would never please my God.  If I embrace the voice of the wind and move in accordance with inner consent, I will be beholden of the elegance of grace and the power of Faith, while basking in favor and receiving His Good success.

The Russian author Tolstoy tells the story of a rich peasant who was never satisfied.  He always wanted more.  He heard of a wonderful chance to get more land.  For 1,000 rubles he could have all the land he could walk around in a day. But he had to make it back by sundown or lose all his money.  He arose early and set out.   He walked on and on, his greed driving him just a little farther as he saw new territory.   Finally he realized that he had to turn back and he had to walk very fast if he was to get back in time to claim the land.   As the sun got lower in the sky, he quickened his pace. As the sun neared the horizon, he began to run. Finally, he saw the starting place.  His heart was pounding rapidly and he was gasping for breath, but he gave it everything he had and plunged over the finish line, fell to the ground, and collapsed, just seconds before the sun disappeared below the horizon.  A stream of blood poured out of his mouth and he lay dead.   His servant took a spade and dug a grave. He made it just long enough and just wide enough and buried him.  The title of Tolstoy’s story is “How Much Land Does a Man Need?” He concludes by saying, “Six feet from his head to his heels was all he needed.”  Although Tolstoy penned his tale in 1886 in Russia, it speaks to our times.

Present world view would dictate an attitude that promotes happiness as having more.  That’s the underlying assumption behind all advertising: “You can’t be happy until you own our product.  If you want to enjoy life, then you need this. And you can buy now, pay later, on our easy credit plan!”

And so we take the bait.

Of course we need two incomes to support that kind of lifestyle, so we pray for a mate to help carry the load or become the load.  We spend our lives collecting trinkets and toys, in bondage to our credit cards.  Still lacking in our quest for success is: Contentment.  Too many Believers get sucked into marsh of discontent.

Are you a contented as a Believer ?

Think over this past week: Was your time spent pursuing godliness with contentment, or was it consumed with going after material things?  I’m not talking about the basics–food, clothing, and shelter.  I’m talking about a lifestyle marked by the pursuit of all of the junk that Madison Avenue tries to convince us that we need.  Our text shows us that God has called His people to a life marked by contentment.

Becoming a godly person brings us great gain–not necessarily in the material realm, as some false teachers in Paul’s day and in ours say–but in the inner person. Part of the gain of godliness is contentment. But how do we gain contentment? How do we extricate ourselves from the pervasive appeals of our materialistic culture so that we can be content with what we have (Heb. 13:5)? In these verses (1 Tim. 6:6-8) Paul shows us that contentment comes from having the priority of godliness, not gain, and the perspective of the eternal, not the temporal.

1. Contentment comes from having the priority of godliness, not gain.

Paul has just (6:3-5) confronted the false teachers who supposed that godliness was a means of (material) gain. But then with a play of words, he clarifies that godliness is actually a means of great gain, when accompanied by contentment (v. 6). Godly people have the inner peace of knowing that they are right with God and that whether they live or die, they belong to Him because He is truly the Lord of their lives.

Paul is simply presenting the two choices of masters Jesus gave: God or mammon (money). Note verse 9 in contrast with verse 11: a man of God must flee from the desire to get rich and pursue godliness. Fleeing and pursuing are opposites. Take your pick: You can pursue godliness, or you can pursue material gain. Those are the only options. You may not choose both.

Join me this evening as we continue to explore the secrets of contentment…

SCRIPTURE FOUNDATIONS:

Hebrews 13:1-10

1 Let brotherly love continue.

Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.

Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.

Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.

Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.

Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.

Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein.

10 We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle.

1 Timothy 6:6-8

But godliness with contentment is great gain.

For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.

And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.