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The Life of Contentment

(Philippians 4:4-20)

Lesson 4 -- third quarter 2000
June 25, 2000

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 2000, Christian Light Publications

Some seeds of discontentment.
Choose contentment!

Most of you reading this have plenty in a land of abundance. If you do not fall in that category, perhaps you find it hard to believe that we who have more than we need should still battle with discontentment. Take me, for instance. Can you imagine that I stipulated the house we moved into had to have no less than two bathrooms? And even though the house we rent does have those required two bathrooms, I still chafe sometimes because one of them has no electrical outlets. I ask you, "Does that make sense?!"

What is it that makes people dissatisfied and discontented? Let's consider a few seeds of discontentment. As you read, remember these are weed seeds!

FORGETFULNESS. It seems I forgot living a year in a home with a family of eight . . . and one bathroom. So why can't my family of seven manage with one . . . especially when we did in Mexico? When I forget the "less" I lived with, I become discontented with the "more" I presently have. I tend to forget how thrilled I was with a 286 computer, so a Pentium 133 becomes less satisfactory. When the seed of forgetfulness sprouts, squash it with a good dose of contented remembering.

UNTHANKFULNESS. Since the downstairs bathroom has no electrical outlets, shall I be unthankful for the whole bathroom or shall I begin to hanker for a cordless shaver?! Maybe I could try being thankful that I can run upstairs and shave in that bathroom. Maybe I could be thankful for the handmirror and the hall outlet. It seems to me that the proverbial attitude of gratitude goes a long way toward uprooting the seed of unthankfulness.

COMPARING. Our previous two residences had fully-outletted bathrooms; this one doesn't. Boo hoo! And just look how Brother K's house is outfitted! Comparison living is a miserable way to exist, but sometimes I still have a hard time getting over the reality that So-and-So has had a van and at least three Suburbans in the time I've had one Suburban. Did you ever wonder why we choose to compare with those who have more? So I've been driving the same Suburban for over 12 years; I know people who've never had a vehicle at all. Whenever our bottom-up comparing gets us discontented, let's remember to try a dose of top-down gratefulness!

MATERIALISM. When I live for my present comfort, enjoyment and advancement, outlets and shavers and vehicles seem mighty important. Beware when the main reason for getting something new is that you've had the old thing long enough! Jesus specifically warned us on this one. He told us clearly to establish our treasures in Heaven. And to learn to be content with something to eat and something to wear.

Sometimes we deceive ourselves into thinking we can't help it that we are not content with such things as we have. After all, isn't discontentment one of those feelings that must run its course before we get over it?

No! Contentment is a choice. So is discontentment.

How willing are we to make the choice for contentment? In Philippians 4:8 God gives us a checklist to use in making our thought choices. I don't see how anyone can be faithful to that verse and still choose discontentment. The Apostle Paul reveals he had to learn contentment. He chose to learn that. Are we commited enough to obedience to make the same choice?

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