Build An Ark: Contentment

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“But godliness actually is a means of great gain, when accompanied by contentment.” 1 Timothy 6:6

“John, you must be content in My love.”

One day last year these simple words reverberated through my spirit in such a manner that I have had to once again reevaluate my life in light of Him. Contentment. Contentment in Him while residing as an alien here. Contentment in Him in the midst of changing seasons. Contentment in Him while being persecuted. Completely, totally, fully content in Him.

Contentment. Not a word that is used much in our society, in our culture, or, unfortunately, in the Church. The reason for this is primarily twofold. First, the enemy always tries to steal the Bread from His children and contentment is our Bread. Second, the spirit of lawlessness (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12) that seeks to completely dominate our lives, is the opposite of contentment. And this spirit of lawlessness is increasing (Matthew 24:12) and its desire is to steal all eternal Truth from us, to kill our souls and to destroy our eternal heritage. That is quite different from Jesus who came that we “might have life, and might have it abundant-ly” (John 10:10)-quite different from being content in His love!

The American Heritage Dictionary defines contentment as simply satisfaction. The carnal nature embraces this temporary truth. This sense of contentment can be seen in the lives of those who have surrounded themselves with their desires. To the degree that we love “the world” (1 John 2:15-17) to that same degree do we surround ourselves with the things, ideas, and activities that bring us satisfaction (as well as people who live in the same manner): all temporary and all designed to bring self centered satisfaction-to please ourselves. This is the fruit of contentment combined with carnality.

In the New Testament the Greek word used to convey the meaning of contentment, autarkeia, is defined as self-satisfaction, contentedness, or a competence. It is used two places in the New Testament and brings out the eternal Truth of contentment that needs to be based on internal satisfaction not external circumstances. Paul explains to Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:6 that this Truth is accomplished in us when godliness (instead of carnality) is accompanied by contentment. After all, for the follower of Jesus, everything is internal-a heart issue. The other place that it is used is in Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 9:8). In this verse autarkesia is translated as having contentment in the provision that He provides. This verse is primarily talking about money, however, there are three spiritual principles that we can glean from the eternal Truth that these two portions of scripture proclaim: first, that as His creation we must find our contentment in Him; second, that as His creation we must find our contentment in His will; and third, that as His creation we must find our contentment in His purpose.

I. As His creation, we must find our contentment in Him.

“In Him is Life, and the Life was the Light of men.” John 1:4

Life is meant to be lived-in Him! So often believers have an outlook concerning life that leaves the Creator out of what they desire and what they are doing (yes, I know He is omnipresent) and when the activity is finished, pleasure and happiness dissipates. Yet, we have a Savior who is so full of Life that He overcame death! He is Truth, but we still find some we love leading lives riddled with depression and confusion, both of which are opposites of contentment. How can this be? Why is it that our Lord promises Life and yet some don’t seem to be able to experience His Life in abundance?

The answer is contentment. Being content with the way that He created you. Being content with the provision that he made for your sins-His poured forth Life. Being content with having “tasted of the heavenly gift” (Hebrews 6:4-5). Being content to live as aliens (1 Peter 2:11). Being content with not being allowed to enter the worldly part or our culture (1 John 2:15-17). Being content in Him!

II. As His creation, we must find our contentment in His Will.

“And the world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God abides forever.” 1 John 2:17

People tend to strive to accomplish their will or what they believe God’s will should be for them! A more excellent way is to be content in what He has for us for right now. The following is an anonymous poem in the Streams In The Desert devotional:

He Keeps the Key!

Is there some problem in your life to solve,
Some passage seeming full of mystery?
God knows, who brings the hidden things to light.
He keeps the key!

Is there some door closed by the Father’s hand
Which widely opened you had hoped to see?
Trust God and wait – for when He shuts the door
He keeps the key!

Is there some earnest prayer unanswered yet,
Or answered not as you had thought ’twould be?
God will make clear His purpose by and by.
He keeps the key!

Have patience with your God, your patient God.
All wise, all knowing, no long lingerer He,
And of the door of all your future life
He keeps the key!

Unfailing comfort, sweet and blessed rest.
To know of every door He keeps the key.
That He at last when just He sees is best,
Will give it to thee!

Can we wait upon His will with a heart full of acceptance and patience? It will be necessary if we are going to please Him. This is not some passive activity but one of extreme radicalness of lifestyle and of plundering the enemy. He truly is God but will allow us to be our own god. However, His purpose will only be accomplished in us and through us if we continually choose to submit to His Way.

To be a people that radically does His will has its own cost. Often, you will be misunderstood. Because of the way that you live, others will be convicted of how they live, and you will be accused of setting impossible standards of righteousness. But press on, His Presence is worth the misunderstandings and accusations!

My mother wanted me to become a doctor and was disappoint- ed that I became a minister instead. For many years it would come up in different ways in our conversations with one another in statements like, “You could have become anything that you wanted,” etc. The truth is: I couldn’t. I had given my life to Jesus and no longer had a right to do as I pleased (2 Corinthians 5:14- 15). It wasn’t until I was in my forties that my mom finally began to express pleasure in what I was doing with my life.

When I first established Jubilee! Christian Fellowship the Lord spoke something to me that radically changed my life. He said, “Don’t look at those on your left who pat you on the back and don’t look at those on your right who stab you in the back, but look at Me!" That one word has kept me focused on Jesus for almost 20 years, while at the same time I have been able to remain submitted to my brothers (Hebrews 13:17; 1 Peter 2:13- 25). Those two truths are not separate but must work together (Psalm 119:160) for us to continue to grow “in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).

I am finding contentment in the many seasons of life for they all contain His will for me.

III. As His creation, we must find our contentment in His Purpose.

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

David had an incredible heart toward the Lord. He did not have any ambition except to be with Him. That was David’s foundational purpose in life: “One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the Lord, And to meditate in His temple” (Psalm 27:4). He did not try to become King, He wanted to know Him! That is His purpose for all of us- to know Him. From that foundation, we will grow the fruit of righteousness that validates the words we speak about the Lord Jesus. People will listen and we will make Him known (and not ourselves, our philosophies, our agenda, our good ideas, etc.) according to the gifts and talents that He has graced us with.

On the other hand, rejection causes many believers to be driven to accomplish their own purpose or to try to become someone whom they view is spiritual. They are always trying to feel good about themselves, and usually at the expense of others! Succumbing to this spiritual force is sin and those who are driven by rejection become only a caricature of the person their Father intended them to be. Sin is a cruel taskmaster and living in rejection is wearying bondage and sin.

Hallelujah! We can have freedom in a heartbeat! The scriptures proclaim, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1). Christ can AND does set the captive free -to accomplish His purpose that we might be able to flow in the Holy Spirit unstained by rejection. We must willingly submit to the cross, from our heart, to find this new life and the freedom that enables us to serve Him.

“A horse is a false hope for victory; Nor does it deliver anyone by its great strength. Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, On those who hope for His loving kindness” Psalm 33:17-18

The Father is forming a bride who is content in the Love of the Son. All are invited to the marriage feast-it begins here. As I have said many times, when the Day of the Lord comes we are not going home to a military briefing, we are not going to attend a teaching seminar, we are not going to a worship conference, we are not going to a forum on church government, nor will we be gathering to feed the poor. We will be going to a marriage feast as the Father presents the assembled bride to his Son, our Lord Jesus!

Be content in Him!