One of the first steps to making a change is to uncover your “why.” As I move toward contentment this year, the answer to this question must be strong enough to push me through obstacles on the path.
The hallmarks of contentment are the ability to endure hardship cheerfully, enjoy blessings without a sense of entitlement or selfishness, and to have confidence that, in Christ, I can tackle any situation that presents itself.
To simply claim that state would seem to be “why” enough. Who wouldn’t want to live like that?
There are plenty of temporal reasons to make this shift in mindset. The opposite of contentment is fear and fear is a joy-killer. When we are afraid that we will not have what we need, that we will become sick or die, we are vulnerable to inner temptations and external control. When we believe we can be defeated by circumstances, our fear of failure keeps us from trying. Avoiding fear seems like a good motivator for seeking to be more content.
The gurus of change, however, encourage us to look for positive motivation. It is better to run toward to a prize rather than away from a problem.
There are things that I want to obtain and achieve. Instead of motivating me however, frustration over lack of finances, job success, or the perfect body often fuel my discontent rather than move me toward satisfaction. What can I set before myself as the motivator? What is my ultimate goal?
In considering this question, I got that familiar tap on the head from the Holy Spirit. “What about love?”
As a Christian, shouldn’t my main motivation be my love for God?
I tend to see my worry and complaining as impediments to a better life. All would be well in my world if I could just be grateful and confident. But God sees both the negativity and my attempts to find my own way out as sin. Ouch!
Romans 14:23 tells us that “whatever is not of faith is sin.” Doubting God’s promises to provide for me, to be with me, and help me in every situation is definitely not of faith. The Bible gives clear commandments against complaining, doubting, fearfulness, and leaning on our own understanding. Holding on to these is disobedience. Jesus said in John 14:23-24 (GNT), Those who love me will obey my teaching…Those who do not love me do not obey my teaching.”
Let’s face it, nobody likes to talk about sin! Repenting might not seem like such a positive move forward, but repenting is not groveling and feeling like a worm. It’s realizing that you’ve made a mistake, turning around, and making a new decision. It’s agreeing with God that my old attitudes and habits were wrong choices I made and asking Him to help me make it right.
My first motivation must be my love for God and my desire to please Him. Just as with our earthly relationships, love and service aren’t given to get something from the other person but are merely signs of our true devotion. It is the nearness of our beloved that is the reward.
In the passage above, Jesus also tells us that when we obey His teachings, God loves us and comes to make His home with us. That is my true heart’s desire, to live in relationship and harmony with God. Thinking and living as He commands is both the motivation and the way. Bingo!
But how? Next time we begin to look at that because it is easier said than done, right?