It’s part of the human condition – we often want what we don’t have or what we see other people getting. Discontentment is a disease of the heart running rampant, even among the most faithful believers in Christ. Read below for some lessons in Godly contentment we can learn from the Apostle Paul.
- Bill works a very difficult, underappreciated job that barely allows him to make ends meet. His brother, on the other hand, has a six-figure salary because he just happened to be at the right place at the right time.
- Kathy and Jim have been trying to become parents for eight years. All of their friends are having their third and second children. They wonder when it’s going to be their turn.
- Michelle is rarely satisfied and easily bored. She’s always looking for the “next best thing,” whether it is houses, cars, clothes and jobs. She usually feels the need to “one up” her friends.
- Jason thinks he would be better off married to someone else.
- Jenny thinks she would be better off married to someone, period.
Do you see yourself in any of these people? If you’ve walked this earth for any length of time, you can identify with one of them, even if it is in your past.
Why are we so easily discontented? We could assume people in the above scenarios are too busy focusing on their circumstances and not on God. Here are some ways we can put our focus where it belongs:
Choose an Attitude of Humility
Take a look at this piece of Paul’s letter to the Philippians:
Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. – Philippians 4:11-12
Paul wrote this letter from a Roman prison, having been incarcerated for sharing his faith. By our standards here in the United States, this is a very unfair predicament. Yet, Paul did not feel he was short of anything.
He was humble to accept the circumstances he had been given, because he was humbled by t he grace he had been given by God when he became a follower of Christ. He knew, at that point, that he possessed that most important thing he could ever obtain – assurance of salvation and a right relationship with his Lord.
Choose an Attitude of Praise
If you were to flip a few pages to the left, you would find Acts 16:25-26:
But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them; and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened.
In this passage, Paul was imprisoned (at an earlier time), along with Silas, for spreading the Gospel. They had been stripped and beaten severely. Instead of complaining or lamenting, the two men began to sing praises to their God.
It’s probably safe to say they didn’t feel like praising the Lord, but they chose to have a grateful heart. They literally “brought down the house” with their songs of praise! The floor of the prison were shaken by an earthquake, and everyone in their midst were set free. Not only were the other prisoners set free by their praise, the heart of the jailer was changed (verses 31-40).
It’s interesting to see that their attitude about their circumstances not only pleased God, it impacted other people – it freed them. We can become so caught up in our attitude of discontentment that it affects the people in our paths. It could even keep them from wanting to know Christ. Do you think the jailer would have been attracted to a relationship with Christ if he sensed a bitter heart in Paul and Silas?
Let’s commit to freedom from the bondage of discontentment through attitudes of humility and praise. By doing this, we can do more than live the abundant life in Christ that was intended for us. We can impact the world by living this outwardly for those around us to witness.