Contentment can be described many different ways. We can speak of happiness, satisfaction, fulfillment and even our purpose or meaning in life. At the end of the day these and other descriptions reflect a lack of contentment. We should not be surprised that the Bible has much to say about contentment in many different form. I would like to look at one of several statements by Jesus that speak to our need to grasp contentment.
Jesus was once approached by soldiers, possibly Roman, that were transformed by His teaching. And they raise an honest question that touches on a challenge that many of us can struggle with. It is how do we practice His teaching in a secular world. I have the privilege of ministering to military personnel and their families in my community. You will often here them joke, when orders are changed again at the last moment, that that is just part of their lives. It is their duty to respond. I can imagine in the New Testament world that the Roman soldier had less privileges and freedoms than those serving in the military today.
So these soldiers, asked Jesus this question. “And we, what shall we do?” (Luke 3:14a) They were seeking guidance on how to live for God in their secular profession of soldering. And here is Jesus’ response, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages. (Luke 3:14a). It is in Jesus’ response to be men of integrity and honesty that we find an important insight on contentment. It is something that you control.
We have been tricked into thinking that contentment is achieved by what we do, what we have or how we feel. Jesus reminds them and us that contentment is grasped through self-control and choosing to be content. The Apostle reminds us that it is something that the follower of Jesus must learn. He writes, “for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.” (Philippians 4:11) ESV The truth is that discontentment is a component of our natural nature (or sin nature).
We will be doing a three week sermon series on this topic where we will be exploring the “Art of Contentment’” The first step to grasping contentment is surrendering to what the Lord is doing in your life. Jesus illustrates that in the last phrase to the soldier to be content with your wages. Soldiering was hard work, with poor working conditions and poor wages. It is something that would be easy to complain about. And yet Jesus reminds them to focus on life from God’s perspective. He has promised to meet your need if you will put Him first. “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33) Your biggest challenge in “Grasping Contentment” is first believing that God will take care of you!
It has been said that we often “Sacrifice what is best for what is good.” All too often we neglect our relationship with God in our pursuit of contentment (or whatever you call it) only to find ourselves dissatisfied with life. One simple way to take a hold of contentment is to stop and thank God for all the blessings in your life, especially those things you take for granted!
-Pastor Joe Parkinson