Perhaps you’ve been hesitant to join me in my goal of being content this year because it seems like the lazy way out. You have areas of your life where you are not satisfied to lean back and say everything is hunky-dory. You want to lose weight and be healthy so you will be around to see your grandchildren grow up. You see the need to fight for changes in government or down at your child’s school. You need to increase your income to provide security for yourself and your family. You don’t want to settle in and just be content with things as they stand.
I get it. Me, too. But contentment with today does not mean you are not working for a better tomorrow.
Remember that we are following Paul on this journey. When he explained his secret to living with either a lot or little, he told the Philippians it was because he could do everything through Christ who gave him strength (Philippians 4:12-13). What did Paul consider “everything?”
In all his letters to the churches preserved in the New Testament, the Apostle explains this over and over. In 1 Corinthians 2:2 (NLT) he says, “For I decided that while I was with you, I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified.” In Philippians 3:8, he compares all his accomplishments to dung when seen in the light of gaining Christ. It is his zeal for a vow made to Jesus that pushes him forward—”For I am jealous for you with the jealousy of God himself. I promised you as a pure bride to one husband—Christ (2 Corinthians 11:2 NLT).” He would suffer anything to bring the Good News of salvation to the Gentiles.
No, being content is not about taking whatever life hands you and making do, shrugging off a bad hand and settling for less. It is about being so focused and on mission that you are willing to accept whatever comes in pursuit of that goal. Paul suffered a staggering number of hardships to fulfill his vow, just a few of which he lists in 2 Corinthians 11:24-31. Beatings, chains, shipwrecks are all on the roster and more.
Contentment is not a passive, weak position when we emulate Paul. It is a mindset that say, “whatever it takes, I can and will do it!”
So, you want to lose weight? Contentment helps you face hunger and early morning workouts. Change society? It gives you the courage to face opposition and persecution. It is perseverance—not with gritted teeth—but joy.
Whew! I wasn’t aware of all this when I started down this road. I wanted the peace and joy, all right, but it’s dawning on me that those things come with a commitment to something besides myself and my own comfort. If I am unhappy or dissatisfied with my circumstances, it is because they serve no purpose to a larger objective. The secret, then, to the Biblical contentment Paul speaks of is the discovery of and igniting of a larger passion.
That means the next question must be: what is more important to me than myself and what would I pay to have it? What is that for you?
The quest continues.