I – BE YE HOLY – 9
There are so many aspects to consider in striving for holiness. One characteristic that has not yet been mentioned is contentedness. Not many women of the world are content. This sets a Christian woman apart. It seems that women are always wanting—more, bigger, more in style, new. Never satisfied. Our study will be based on the Bible—but also as Becky Dalrymple used the Word in her article in the Voice of Evangelism in the June, 2006, issue.
This illustration really brings to mind the idea of contentment and its meaning. A fisherman, having already caught the fish he needed for the day, was lazily sitting beside his boat. A business man came by and was perturbed and asked why he was not out getting more and more fish which he could sell and make more money. The fisherman asked, “What would I do then?” The answer was, “Then you could sit down and enjoy life.” The fisherman replied, “What do you think I’m doing now?” It seems that life has become focused on getting more and more.
“Content” as a descriptive word simply means satisfied. “Content” as an action word means “to limit one’s requirements, desires, or actions.” Not only is a contented person satisfied with life, he is pleased with possessions, status, and his situation. There is no need for constant change. Contentedness is reflected in the spiritual, mental, and physical life of a person. Too often we are content until we see something better. Then we want.
As for our spiritual lives, we want to be constantly growing. We cannot and should not just sit and be content with our spiritual knowledge and growth so let’s investigate just what being content means for a Christian.
The Holeman Bible Dictionary defines contentment as “an internal satisfaction which does not demand changes in external circumstances.” Contentment depends upon our confidence in the Lord. We are willing to accept life and its circumstances with great joy in the Lord and peace because we trust that God is in control and will help us through. Phil. 4:11
Heb. 13:5 Contentment is a command—not an option. Two women in 1 Sam. 1: 1-8 had spirits of discontentment. They were Peninnah and Hannah. We recognize Hannah as a very godly woman. She was the mother of Samuel who became one chosen of God to serve as a prophet. Hannah wanted a son so much she was willing to give him to the Lord. Before she had Samuel, Peninnah would cruelly taunt Hannah because she had no children. Peninnah had children but she did not have the secure love of her husband. She wanted this and was jealous and discontent over this fact. Hannah had this devoted love of her husband but wanted a son. Both had something that the other wanted.
There are many ways in which we are to be content. Women are always trying to make themselves beautiful. We need to be content with the way God made us. This is not to say we need to be dirty or a slouch. We just need to be the very best we can be to the glory of God. We need to represent Christ in a modest, loving way as we serve Him and others in a peaceful, helpful, and joyful way. When we become discontent with our size (maybe we can do something about it), or our hair or features, then we fail to focus on the things of the Lord. Our minds are in constant turmoil and we start adding adornment on the outside as a crutch rather than adorning the inside—our spirit and character.
Unfaithfulness in marriage is rampant today. If we go back in history, even in Jesus’ day, the same has always been true. Why? Not content. It is so easy to look at the marriage or spouse of another and compare to our own and then be discontent—not satisfied. Who chose that spouse? Who is one-half of the marriage? Discontentment will not make it any better. When we are not content, we begin to pick at every flaw. Of course, we have no flaws to overlook. Can we find good things—and then tell him? Do we pray for him and find things to thank God for in our marriage. Here is a good suggestion found in the Voice article. “For one week, spend ten minutes each day thanking God for your husband. Make a list and thank your husband out loud for things he does for you. So often we just take for granted the things our husbands do.” Marriage is precious in the sight of God. So much so that Jesus used it as an example of His church. Eph. 5:29-32 Just as Christ is faithful to His church, so we must be faithful to our spouse—as long as we live. Mk.10:9
Aside from our spouse, we have a family. It may be small. It may be large. It is my belief that our family by marriage is our family, too. So many extended, and maybe even immediate, families are torn apart with strife and jealousy. No forgiveness or forbearance is shown. As Christians, we cannot be a part of those conditions. They may exist, but without us. First, we must honor our parents. Matt. 15:4-6 This was in the 10 commandments but Jesus here emphasizes the importance of it and even goes so far as not to speak evil of them. What a blessing for children to recognize the needs of their parents and be willing to help them. How many parents are left alone without visits or calls in rest homes. Here is where our Christian family can take over.
What about our children? First, we brought them up. (in the nurture of the Lord?) Deut. 6:7-9 We have a maxim to which we cling but sometimes doubt when our children go the wrong way. Prov. 22:6 Perhaps we just “think” we brought them up in the Lord. Have we prayed for them and with them every day? Have we led them with the right example in following Jesus? Have we shown the righteous attitudes in the home for them to observe? We do recognize that children advance to adulthood and must make their own choices. Properly taught, they still may follow wrong paths but recognize it and come back. A maxim is a general truth, not a promise. Proverbs is full of maxims. Solomon was very wise and is the one who gave this maxim but did follow through with it himself.
Sometimes we must have a very difficult contentment—desiring children and not having any. We have to remember that God sees the big picture that we cannot see. He knows best and we just have to put our trust in Him and accept whatever comes.
Timothy was an example of good results in his training. 2 Tim. 3:15. The roll of grandparents is also important. 2 Tim. 1:5 Let us not be too discontent with the outcome of our children or extended families without looking inside ourselves where we might have failed. Be content with the family we were born into and love them (which overlooks sins 1 Pet. 4:8) and be a good influence on them.
None of us ever complain about our home, do we? It is too small—not enough room for our family and not enough storage space. This may be true. Think about those that are homeless for real. Does looking at large, beautiful homes make you wish? Try cleaning one or paying the utilities on one. Look at that spacious lawn. Takes work. With many of the amenities comes work and expense. If we have honest needs and can afford it, that is wonderful. Praise the Lord. We just cannot forget to be thankful for what we have and grumble about it.
A man was jealous of the lovely homes his friends had, so he put his house up for sale and began looking for one to buy. He found just what he wanted in a listing. The agent asked him several questions about it and then replied, “But sir, that’s your house you are describing.” We don’t realize what we have many times.
Are we ever content with our finances? Just such and such would be enough, but “enough” never comes. Eph. 4:19 This expresses it well—“a continual lust for more.” It is a tendency for us to think that if I had more, I could help the church or missions. How much are we helping with what we now have? Matt. 25:23 It is so easy for money to slip through our fingers. We may even spend it for something good while things more necessary go begging. Phil. 4:11 This will help us be more content with our NEEDS and not our GREEDS.
God has a plan, a purpose, for us. We were created special. We are His workmanship. We need to be content in what He has and will do in us. Eph. 2:10 We have been given gifts to use for His glory.
12:6; 1 Cor. 4,11 We may feel like we can’t do much. Do we trust and pray that God can and will work in us and through us? Moses felt like he was not up to the task God was giving him. God worked through the weakness of many of the “greats” in Heb. 11. 2 Cor. 12:10 Rom.
We cannot be thankful and be discontented. They go hand-in-hand. In trying to be holy, we have great gain when we learn to be content. 1 Tim. 6:6 Satisfaction comes with contentedness. Ps. 90:14 With God’s lovingkindness comes joy and gladness. When we are contented, we are satisfied with what God gives us. Prov. 13:25 When we serve the Lord, He will satisfy our needs. Isa. 58:10,11 gives us a contented picture of this satisfaction. Ezek. 7:19 gives us a contrast. Those who have not been contented and have treasured possessions will pitch them. They will not be satisfied for fear of the wrath of God. We will leave it all behind some day. As we honestly look at our contentment in the way God made us, the family in which we were born, the marriage we chose, our homes and finances, our circumstances, and the plan God has for us, may God help us learn the important lesson of contentment that we may be thankful for all things. Eph. 5:20 (synonyms of content: pleased, delight, grateful, glad, cheerful, fulfilled)