WORDS FROM W.W. February 11, 2010

A friend of mine recently brought my attention to a couple of verses in the New Testament letter to the Philippians. The Apostle Paul wrote these words:
“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 strength.” (Philippians 4:12-13)
When I did a Google word search the first listing that came up on the page was “Happiness Massage Lotion”. As I get older and my back gets more and more dysfunctional massages sound like great ideas, but I hesitant to equate contentment with a body lotion. I’ll go with relaxing, but contentment…
Advertising tries to sell us contentment. Watch a commercial about a new Ford, Golden Corral restaurant (“Graze to your heart’s content…or until it gives out!), or even lawn fertilizer and you will see expressions of contentment on the faces of those hired to look contented.
In essence, people are searching for contentment but find it for only temporary moments. A new vehicle is fine until the first car payment comes due. A green lawn is gratifying until it goes uncut for a couple of weeks…and those dandelions start popping up! I know of no one who is contented with Golden Corral about an hour after they exit. Can you say “Alka-Seltzer?”
The secret, as Paul writes, is being firmly rooted in the One who defines contentment. If I believe that Christ is the hope, the life-giver, the reservoir of strength, and the One who gives my life purpose, then I will be content in the good days and the bad, the hard times and the prosperous moments. Being rooted in Christ allows us to live with a sense of contentment instead of always having contentment be something that is still somewhere in our future, or when we reach a certain position, or have the mortgage paid off, or have grandkids, or don’t have to worry about what time we wake up in the morning. Contentment with Jesus is a present and future situation, not a “hoped for sometime” destination.
There is a tendency to allow the times or others to determine whether we’re contented or not. In the midst of demanding financial times a lot of people are pulling their hair out. Expenses exceed income. Trips to Goodwill outnumber trips to Target. Generic is the main label in the cupboard. There is much fretting and sleeplessness.
Without minimizing the pressures of the times on families and individuals it is important to figure out who is the source of contentment. Paul makes it clear that he is contented whether he’s going hungry or feasting. The external factors do not dictate his heart passion and sense of calling. You get the sense that Paul was content whether he was sleeping in jail cell or a Sealy Posture-pedic.
People are restless these days. There is a lot of searching happening…but not necessarily for what will leave us plenty contented.

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  1. Laura Patterson Says:

    So true! Thank you for reminding me to be content. I just quit my job to stay home with my children and I do panic some over the finances,yet I know God blessed my leaving my job of 16 years to be a full time Mom. I just have to remember to be content with the small things and look for God’s beauty in the little or big free things!!

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