Over the past fifteen years or so, God has really done a work on my heart in the area of contentment. There was a time in my life that I could never relax in contentment…I always wanted more money, more recognition, more fame, more prestige, more “stuff,” a bigger house, a bigger car, better furniture, better appliances, more…, bigger…., better…..! I wanted it all! I was never content!
I worked, focused on my goals, my dreams, my desires…and sacrificed things and people that were important to me. I got so sucked into that kind of lifestyle…how damaging that was, as I look back.
It really wasn’t until I missed a huge goal, and didn’t re-qualify for a pink Cadillac in my business, that I realized God was working on my heart. I “stepped down” from a pink Cadillac to a silver Grand Prix…still a car we didn’t have to pay for, but to me and to so many, it seemed like a “step down.” Honestly, my self-worth was attached to that car…or at least I thought so. Over that period of time, I very slowly began to realize what it means to live in contentment.
My friend Jeanie and I were talking about this just this morning when we met for breakfast. God has seemed to strip away from both of us the things “of this world” to teach us to be content. It has been a painful, hurtful, and not pleasant pruning process to go through…but it has been worth it. Many people in my life cannot understand what being content is and how to live in it. I think I have just a handful of friends who understand this. I wouldn’t trade the peace I have now…living in contentment…for anything in the world. No prize, no goal, no car, no amount of money is worth more than living in contentment!
Contentment, I think, is hard to describe. I found this excerpt from a writing of Charles R. Swindoll that explains what I’ve tried to explain for years. It’s from his book Day by Day and is based on Philippians 4.
“Face it. You and I are afraid if we open the door of contentment, two uninvited guests will rush in: loss of prestige and laziness. We really believe that “getting to the top” is worth any sacrifice. To proud Americans, contentment is something to be enjoyed between birth and kindergarten…retirement and the rest home…or (and this will hurt) among those who have no ambition.
Stop and think. A young man with keen mechanical skills is often counseled against being contented to “settle” for a trade right out of high school. A teacher who is competent, contented, and fulfilled in the classroom is frowned upon if she turns down an offer to become a principal. The owner of Super-Duper Hamburgers on the corner has a packed-out joint every day, but chances are selfish ambition won’t let him rest until he opens ten other joints and gets rich–leaving contentment behind.
Now, listen to Jesus: ‘Be content with your wages’ (Luke 3:14). Hear Paul: ‘I am well content with weaknesses,’ and, ‘If we have food and covering…be content!’ (2 Cor. 12:10, 1 Tim. 6:8). And hear another apostle: ‘Let your character be free from the love of money, being content with what you have’ (Heb. 13:5).
I warn you: This isn’t easy to implement. You’ll be outnumbered and outvoted. You’ll have to fight the urge to conform. Even the greatest of all the apostles admitted, ‘I have learned to be content’ (Phil. 4:11). It’s a learning process…and it isn’t very enjoyable marching out of step until you are convinced you’re listening to the right drummer.
When you’re fully convinced, however, you’ll be free, indeed!”
I still have to fight against feelings of wanting more, doing more, etc, every now and then. I trust God that someday I’ll conquer those feelings, once and for all. But until I do, I’ve had a chance to experience the freedom that comes with contentment, and I almost feel spoiled by it. I consider it a gift God has given me, and I’m thankful He has taught me how to enjoy it!
I am praying for your contentment today.