What's Up With Contentment?
How does our culture define contentment?
When we surf the web or scan television we soon determine that from our society’s viewpoint contentment means taking care of number one. Self-actualization registers high on the contentment meter.
We deserve a break today is the mentality that is most prevalent; we actually believe it. Not only do we believe we deserve a break, we demand that our wants be given top priority. Life is a smorgasbord for us to indulge our wants; we will abandon responsibility in a heartbeat to achieve personal fulfillment.
Ads beckon us to buy our way to emotional stability. Marketing shamans proclaim that satisfaction is found in the accumulation of toys and treasures; we are told that we need more, require the biggest and best, and by the way, we can have it all in just five easy payments.
We become persuaded that we will be content only when we have a larger house or the newest electronic wonder or a faster car or when such and such happens. Like lemmings running over a cliff we follow blindly along.
The influence of the media trumps common sense. Whether one has ever heard the songs or not, the lyrics of Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones defines the mindset that advertising feasts upon: We can’t “always get want we want”, which means we “can’t get no satisfaction”.
In our consumer-driven culture, contentment is tied to success and wealth. Yet deep within us we recognize the folly because the hollow results of materialism are self-evident. God’s Word tells us very clearly that life does not consist in the abundance of possessions. Written on our hearts is the knowledge that contentment is based on maintaining our lives in balance with God.
Contentment must ripple forth from the well of our heart’s perspective. It ought not to be at the mercy of the shifting tides of circumstance.
In the first-century, Paul of Tarsus demonstrated this truth in words and deeds. He was imprisoned in Rome because of his faith in Christ, yet he did not gripe or complain about his situation.
Rather, from that jailhouse he penned a letter to his friends at Philippi that contain some of the most powerful words ever written: “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me the strength.”
Paul’s learning to be content whatever the circumstances was rooted in his desire “to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.”
True contentment cannot be obtained without coming to terms with our Creator’s requirements. Getting our lives aligned with God is fundamental to our ability to be content.
Love & Service
The story is told about a fella who pulled up to a remote country gas station. He walked over to the soda-pop vending machine and stared at the sign in disbelief. “Five dollars for a can of pop? That’s ridiculous!” he grumbled, shaking his head. “Well, it ain’t really five dollars,” the attendant said. “The machine’s actually broke. I put up an out of order sign, but no one paid any attention. People kept putting their money in and I had to keep getting it out for them. So I put up that sign and ain’t had no trouble since.”
That illustrates well the naked reality of our attitude. Rather than paying attention to the sign - God’s Word - which tells us that the world and its values are out of order, we keep putting our money, time and efforts into self-centered pursuits. Except instead of just losing money, we get cut loose from our spiritual moorings.
Our culture provides shiny illusions that rob us of vitality, leaving us wounded and adrift. What the God of Scripture offers in Christ is present peace along with an eternal hope that has depths of meaning beyond our capacity to fathom.
What’s up with contentment is this: Christianity is not the self-absorbed rose-colored theology that is so prevalent in contemporary circles; what the God of Scripture offers in Christ is purpose grounded in pouring our lives out in love and service to others.
Therein lays the secret of contentment.
- Wanted Man
Wanted Man a.k.a. Ken R. Abell, seeks to be a blessing to others. He's a rake, a rambler, and a teller of tales who understands that there is strength in a story well told and well lived. To learn more, inquire or schedule him, visit this web site.
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