May 22, 2007

The Secret of Contentment

Mary Southerland

 

 

Today’s Truth

“For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:9-13 (NIV)

 

 

Friend to Friend

The story is told of a farmer who had lived on the same farm all of his life. It was a good farm but with the passing years, the farmer began to tire of it and long for something better. Every day he found something else wrong with it and finally decided to sell. He hired a Realtor who made up a sales flier, emphasizing the good points of the farm - ideal location, modern equipment and healthy stock on acres of fertile ground. However, before she ran the ad she called the farmer and read it to him for his approval. The farmer listened as she read and when she finished he cried out, “Hold everything! I have changed my mind. I’m not going to sell. I’ve been looking for a place like that all of my life!”

 

Like the farmer, you and I are constantly looking for something “better”. Deep in our hearts we long for something more! As believers in Jesus Christ, we should be living illustrations of peace and contentment. Yet many of us struggle to do so. What is the secret of contentment?

 

To find the secret of contentment we turn to the life of Paul, a disciple of Christ who had every reason to be discontented. He writes the book of Philippians from prison where he is awaiting trial and possible execution. He is all alone, facing great persecution as a believer. Paul is no stranger to persecution; he has been beaten, stoned, shipwrecked and ridiculed because of His vocal faith in God. As he approaches the end of his life, his health is bad and he is almost blind. And yet, through the darkness of his pain he joyfully exclaims, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.” Paul’s perspective is amazing and worthy of close scrutiny.

 

The first step toward a contented life is to choose obedience. Paul tells us in verse nine that in order to experience peace and contentment we must “put into practice” the precepts of God. When a company takes over another company there is often a sign displayed that reads, "Under New Management." When we invite Christ to take over our life, we place ourselves under new management - the management of Jesus Christ. He manages our lives from a heart of love. When God takes over, He puts into place His Word, His plan for our lives. Paul assures us that it is the best plan - the highest plan and the only plan that will produce a contented life.

 

Our choice to obey that plan will guarantee contentment because when we choose obedience we are stepping under the umbrella of His protection. The success of the plan depends upon Him. Obedience sets Him free to work! It encourages peace in our hearts and brings the contentment we seek.

 

Disobedience is the enemy of contentment because it is sin. Contentment and disobedience cannot exist together. Vance Havner says, “You cannot break the laws of God---you break yourself against them.” It is not enough to know the truth! Jesus is not pleased with or impressed by how much we know. He is pleased with how much we do! Choose to obey! Obedience will bring contentment!

 

 

Let’s pray

Lord, I long to know you more and experience the contentment that only an intimate relationship with you can bring. Thank you for loving me and choosing me to be your own. I now place myself under your management and control. Amen!

 

 

Now it’s your turn

Take some time to look back over your life, recognizing that His plan for you is the only one that will bring you contentment. Choose to follow that plan, seeking Him in every step of today’s journey.

 

 

More from the girls

This is a tough one for me! I constantly battle against looking in the wrong places for contentment. The longer I walk with Christ, the more I realize that contentment is found in one place alone…smack dab in the middle of God’s arms and God’s love. When I am there, His plan unfolds before me and as I choose to follow that plan, am neck-high in the waters of contentment. Join me! The water is just right!

 

 

For more on this topic, see Mary’s book, Hope in the Midst of Depression.

 

 

 

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