June 1, 2008

Loving God, Living Contentment

Looking back on our lives, each of us is prone to think about the “shouldve’s” and “couldve’s”. “If I had made a different decision, life would be so much better.” Similarly, in the present, we often ponder the way things should be. As one writer[1] has expressed it, we act as if we’re living “plan B” while we await God’s “plan A” to rescue us from the current circumstance—as if it couldn’t possibly be “plan A.” Those who are waiting for the right job or right spouse know exactly what I mean. Although it is difficult to resist this way of thinking, every attempt must be given to pursue a life of contentment. In this regard, Philippians 4:10-13 states:

… I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

The Apostle Paul serves as one of many biblical illustrations of what it means to be content, even in the most difficult circumstance. But his ability to be content is not rooted in his own personal will power to endure or cope through sticky situations but in the strength provided to him by God to endure through all things, accompanied by the higher value of the advancement of the gospel (1:12).

Very few of us will ever experience the kind of life as that of Paul or any other missionary persecuted for the sake of Christ. This is not to diminish the day to day concerns each one of us faces daily, because we know, not only, that God cares about the details of our life, but that in his providence he ordained each day. The appropriate response then is to live in a way that accords to loving God with our heart, soul and mind. The person who is content in their life will focus on God and not on themselves.

[1] James, Carolyn Custis. When Life and Beliefs Collide. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001) p. 72.

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