As is often the case, the world around us defines words and circumstances very differently than the Bible does. “Contentment” is one of those words.
When I began my New Year’s Resolution to become more content, as the Apostle Paul claimed to be, I assumed I knew what that term meant. It seemed to me to be a “go with the flow” mentality based on trusting the details of my life to God’s care. No worries. Carefree because, of course, I had cast my cares on Jesus because He does, after all, care for me. I would be free, then to go about the business of my life.
As I delved into the Bible for clues to achieving this blissful state, it began to dawn on me that it comes because of the death of self and the birth of God’s Big Dream in my life. Not exactly hakuna matata after all, but a purpose so large it dwarfs all the obstacles.
Paul was undeterred by circumstances because he was completely focused on the job he had been given to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles. In the face of this charge, he was unstoppable. None of the beatings, imprisonments, persecution, or anything else made him turn back. The Book of Acts often finds him turning those very same occasions into opportunities to spread the Good News. Many of his jailers were saved as he ministered to them in chains.
We won’t find contentment such as Paul’s without the same depth of desire and sense of purpose.
Again, most of us look to the world for our definitions and the world has offered its own way to satisfaction. Most of the things I have been coached by this society to want do not solicit that level of commitment. Money. Houses. Cars. Fame. Fortune. While I might be willing to “do what other people won’t to have what other people don’t” (as the success coaches say), I am not willing to die for those things. Paul not only gave his time, but he also gave his life’s breath to follow God’s call on his life.
We have been uniquely crafted by God for a specific job in His Kingdom. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Psalm 139 tells how he knew us as we were growing in our mother’s womb and that all our days were written in His book before one came to be. It sounds like He has something exciting planned for each of us, something that will catch our attention and rev our engines. Though Paul’s way of serving God is humbling, I cannot assume it’s God way for me. How can I connect with God and my purpose in a way that worth giving not only my time, energy, and money, but my life as well?
How did Paul? That is an interesting tale with lots of applications for us…but I’m out of space here so—next time!