This is my first blog of the New Year. I pray everyone involved in my life in any way will have a great 2015. Yesterday morning I spoke at the chapel service at the school my sons attend. I challenged the students to strive to improve themselves in 2015. I laid out a simple plan for them to follow that would help them improve as believers in Christ. As I was driving home, led by the Holy Spirit, I did an inventory of my life the last few years. I checked to see if I had improved. I pondered if I developed an attitude that I had arrived at a place where I didn’t need to improve. The message at chapel and the inventory I performed on my own life is the impetus for this blog.
The title seems to be confusing but it really is not. As believers we should be content but we should never be satisfied. There is a subtle difference in these two concepts as I understand them.
1) The Bible teaches we are to be content.
Philippians 4:11 says, “I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.” In this most familiar passage Paul is speaking of being content regardless of his material possessions. If he received a gift from the Philippians or not he would be content. If he had extra money or barely enough goods to sustain him Paul would be content.
I Timothy 6:6-8 reads, “But godliness with contentment is a great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these.” Paul is addressing the issue that some men full of pride have seen godliness as a means of gaining material wealth. Even in the first century we see the prosperity gospel was being preached. Paul says of these prosperity teachers they are conceited, thinking they know something when they really know nothing. Paul teaches that Godliness with contentment is great gain.
One more passage that deals with contentment that happens to be one of my favorites is Proverbs 30:8, “Keep falsehood and deceitful words far from me. Give me neither poverty nor wealth; feed me with the food I need.”
It is clear from God’s Word contentment in the life of the believer is dependent upon God. Wherever we are in our lives we desire for our lives what God desires for our lives. We may be on the bottom rung of a long ladder in life we are trying to climb; we may be nowhere near the dreams and aspirations we have for ourselves but we can still be content for God’s desires are our desires and as His disciples we trust Him. He is the One in control of our lives. That means one pursuing a dream of being a fine chef may have to wash dishes in a kitchen for a while. A devout follower of Christ will do so with contentment for he knows God is in control of his life.
So in a nutshell contentment is accepting where God has placed us in life while trusting He is in control.
II. The Bible also teaches we are not to be satisfied.
By this I mean we are not to be satisfied with ourselves. The Apostle Paul was speaking of spiritual maturity when he penned Philippians 3:13,”Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead.” Paul realized that regardless of where he was in his spiritual maturity he could always improve. He could grow more in the Lord. I am going to assume if Paul needed to grow in the Lord none of us have reached maturity.
I am afraid often we become satisfied with ourselves. This not only happens to believers in our walk with Christ but it happens to people in every walk of life. I had a teacher in high school who in 1983 was using the same lesson plan book from 1977. I saw the date on her book. Years later, as an adult, I realized what this meant. She had not changed in over 6 years. Doctors, lawyers, school teachers, accountants, mechanics and most certainly preachers should never be satisfied with who we are. A satisfied person quits dreaming. A satisfied person quits striving. Often a satisfied person simply goes through the motions.
Peter’s last words recorded for us in his second letter was, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen,” II Peter 3:18. Peter, led by the Spirit, chose to end his instructions to believers by reminding us to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Peter knew about growing. He once denied Christ 3 times but by the time he writes this second epistle he is willing to be crucified for Jesus. He had grown in the grace and knowledge of Jesus and he desired all believers to grow as well.
So in a nutshell satisfaction, in this instance, means to be pleased with yourself and see no greater purpose for your life than right now. God has saved us all to do great works to glorify His name. None of us who are believers should be satisfied with what we are doing for our King.
My goal for 2015 is to be content in God while never being satisfied with myself. By the way, when I finished the review of my life to see if I had improved any the last few years …….I wept.