Drinking Deeply

Friday, November 03, 2006 at 3:24 PM

Contentment

Over the last weekend, I had the blessing to join RUF and Grace Presbyterian Church (does anyone else think the fact that in their logo it's "Presbyterian Grace" is amusing?) for a retreat on "Contentment in Christ."

Based roughly upon Philippians 4, the sermons focused upon what contentment means and how it looks. Some notes:

When we speak of contentment, it's not about this state of bliss or "Your Best Life Now" but it's about being content in Christ. There are a lot of people who are non-Christians in this world that would say that they are content with what they have, but what ultimately glorifies God is not that we are content, but we look to God as the source of our contentment. It's not about the money, goods, and things of this world, but it's about God. Contentment is set against anxiety, it's a state of our minds and not our wealth.

It's so ironic that Paul, speaking from jail, persecuted, whipped, shipwrecked, is writing letters to share the secret of contentment. (I couldn't help but see contrast between Paul's life and people like Joel Osteen's)

Contentment doesn't mean that Christians are always "chipper" or "swell." We will suffer a great deal, but contentment is something that we experience when we suffer. Faith is a refusal to panic. Just as God has raised Christ from the dead, He will raise us, who are in Him, from the dead. The Lord is at hand.

Contentment is different from complacency. Complacency is where you're satisfied with where things are and use that as an excuse not to change them. Contentment we are satisfied with God but not necessarily where things are. Still moving forward.

The emphasis of contentment, rejoicing, happiness in Christ is not upon our personal emotions. A lot of people can be happy, content, rejoicing, and so on. But what glorifies God is declaring that God is the root, source, and completion of those emotions. We rejoice in the Lord. Nothing else is worthy of that rejoicing and contentment in. When we look to our accomplishments, our circumstances, or anything else, for contentment and joy, we miss the whole picture. Idolatry.

Nothing new here, just the same old truth preached in that compelling and God-glorifying way. Praise the Lord for times as these.

This was particularly a hard lesson to apply as the very next day I was overwhelmed with anxiety about my upcoming midterm in Greek. Ironies of ironies. But glory to God. He sustains and maintains. My standing before Him does not depend upon a midterm or an exam. And my joy is rooted not in my works but in Christ's. Grace is sufficient.

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