The Secret of Contentment, 1

Posted: September 5, 2011 in Living the Faith
Tags: , , ,

Contentment.  We’re not always sure what it means…but it does have kind of an “ahhhhhhhh” sound about it, doesn’t it?

To my way of thinking, contentment is the sense of satisfaction that you feel when your place, possessions, and person are all in accord with your passionsPlace is about your status in life…where you are and what you’re doing.  Possessions refers simply to the things you have.  Person is about who you are, what you are.  When you begin to desire something other than is, your contentment is disturbed.

For example, if something happens to make you dissatisfied with your place, your station in life…if something causes you to desire another station, then your contentment is lost.  If you to desire to have something that you don’t have, your contentment is lost.  If something causes you to be dissatisfied with the kind of person you are, then your contentment is lost.  Contentment requires that we have a sense of sufficiency in all these.  But that’s a problem because our entire system, our entire manner of life, is driven by discontent.

Our careers are driven by achievement; the more we accomplish, the higher we climb, the more we are recognized as having achieved.  And we’re given the respect of that accomplishment.  Our economy is driven by acquisition; more stuff, better stuff, different stuff.  There is no distinction between actual needs and felt needs.  If we want it, we need it…and must have it.  Our personal lives are driven by development; more education, more training, more self-improvement, more self-awareness…

There is no ‘end’, there is no ‘enough’, there is no sense of arrival.  There is only climb, gather, and become.  There is only a life of constant motion, expansion, and anxiety.  We celebrate the ‘journey’ because we have no destination.  The mantra of our culture is “Do, Have, Be”, and always suffixed by MORE.  Do MORE, Have MORE, Be MORE…there is no rest, contentment, or peace.

We are this way because of what stands at the centre of our lives.  What stands at the centre is insufficient, and since insufficiency is at our very core, we strive, we hunger, we seek and are never satisfied.   What stands at the centre is ME.  Like the ancients, we fear the Lord and serve our own god…the god ME.  We are, all of us, narcissists.

I confess that for the greatest period of my adult life I, too, was driven by Do More, Have More, and Be More.  And as a spiritual leader I used that same driven-ness to motivate those I led to Do More for God, to Have More for God, and to Be More for God.  It was the same drive with the same essential goals, only with a spiritual suffix.  Then I would weep in private agony and preach brokenly about the lack of rest, of contentment, and of peace.  And I quite honestly didn’t understand the fundamental conflict…that in the drive to Do More there could be no rest, in the drive to Have More there could be no contentment, and in the drive to Be More there could be no peace.

The importance of this overall contentment is significant in the Christian life.  We’re told to be content with the things we have.   We’re told that having food and clothing should be enough.  We’re told that a godly, contented life is a rich life.  We recognize the importance of contentment.  We want to be content.  We don’t enjoy being constantly driven.  But how?  How is contentment found?  How is contentment established?

Paul said that he had learned the secret of contentment…and the secret lies with Who stands at the centre.  The writings of the Apostle in Philippians and Hebrews show clearly that lasting contentment is only possible when Christ stands at the centre of our lives.  Christ is sufficient…He is all sufficient.  If the all sufficient stands at the centre of your life, there is no insufficiency there.  If there is no insufficiency, there is no ache for MORE, and you can know contentment.

The question now is, “How do I place Christ at the centre?”  That really is the ultimate question when you’re talking about contentment.

(To be continued…)

Comments
  1. Paul says:

    Good teaching……Quote: “if something happens to make you dissatisfied with your place, your station in life…if something causes you to desire another station, then your contentment is lost”……Now I know that in my own life I like to move, but knowing the difference between moving because of God’s call and moving because of discontentment is another…. your post today is an eye opener and a thought provoker
    Thank Brother Dennis
    Paul

  2. Dennis Munn says:

    Thanks, Paul! When you have the chance, check out part 2 of The Secret of Contentment. God bless!

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