October 8, 2007
A Path to Contentment
“And don’t be wishing you were someplace else or with someone else. Where you are is God’s place for you. Live and obey and love and believe right there. God, not your marital status, defines your life.” I Corinthians 7:17 (MSG)
I have heard it said that comparison is the death of contentment, and truer words were never spoken. As I read this verse, I was struck by what Paul was saying. His words took me back to a place in my life when I was discontent with my marriage, my home, my children, and my life. I looked around me for answers and compared my situation to others. The trouble was I had limited information as to what was really going on in other people’s lives. I could only see what they wanted me to see, what they chose to reveal.
This habit of comparison led me to dissatisfaction with my husband. If only he were more godly. If only he were more attentive. If only he made more money. If only he understood me better. If only he were like so and so’s husband, then… This vicious cycle continued for many years, diminishing my husband in my eyes, and defeating our marriage from the outside in. Unless something changed, we were doomed to join the statistics.
It was the Truth in this verse that led me to stop the madness. Instead of focusing on other people, I focused on my husband. Instead of wishing away what God had given me, I started counting my blessings. Instead of wanting what I didn’t have, I worked at wanting what I had already been given. This external shift in perspective resulted in an internal heart change. Over time, I learned to live out the Truth in this verse.
If you break the verse down, you find three parts.
One: Don’t be wishing you were someplace else or with someone else. This statement is true for both spouses, and reflects an attitude that is rampant in the culture. Be careful of the times you say to yourself, “If only…” Those statements lead down a dangerous road.
Two: Where you are is God’s place for you. For reasons you may not understand, God has allowed you to be in the place you are in. Instead of spending time wishing it away, spend time seeking God to determine His purposes for you. Use this as an opportunity for spiritual growth. This is true for singles as well as married couples.
Three: God defines your life. Don’t let your spouse, position, address, income, or anything else define you. If you have been guilty of letting these things define you, ask for His forgiveness and take steps to break free from these attitudes today. Spend some time letting the God of the Universe tell you who you are and what He sees in you. Don’t look to your spouse, your friends, your coworkers, neighbors or family members for these answers.
These three steps will lead you down a new path. This path leads to hope and contentment, freedom and abundance.
Dear Lord, Please tell me who I am in You. Help me to seek your answers and not look to other people’s situations as a solution. Help me find the path You have carved out for me so I can live the life of freedom and abundance You have uniquely planned for me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Marybeth Whalen’s blog
Capture His Heart by Lysa TerKeurst
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Is there someone you tend to compare yourself to? Perhaps it is a neighbor or family member. Write down any names God has brought to mind and any action steps you can take to stop looking to them.
What feelings does this verse stir up in you?
Which of the three parts most applies to your situation today?
Psalm 16:11, “You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” (NIV)
Ecclesiastes 4:8, “There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother. There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were not content with his wealth. ‘For whom am I toiling,’ he asked, ‘and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?’ This too is meaningless—a miserable business!” (NIV)
Philippians 4:12-13, “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 all things through him who gives me strength.” (NIV)
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