We are currently reading through Exodus and are reminded, at every turn, how no matter what God does for His people; they continue to whine and complain. Many will think to themselves, "O' I am nothing like those Israelites. If I had been there, I would not be among the whiners." Perhaps there are a few where this may be true of them. However, for the majority of mankind, nothing is ever good enough. In fact, most seem to think that they deserve to be happy; they deserve to live without hardship, toil and suffering. Why is this?
Are we conditioned to believe this by our parents, friends, culture, media, and the like? That is certainly a part of it. For example; when someone gets promoted; when someone announces an upcoming wedding; when someone shares how they came into a financial gain; the too common expression, even out of the mouths of professing Christians, is, "I am so happy for you--you deserve it".
The truth is--we "deserve" nothing. All good that comes to us is an act of mercy and grace at the hands of God. When one truly embraces this reality, one has a difficult time complaining and whining about anything.
Let us, as Christians, stop thinking like; and, mimicking the world's responses and reactions. Let us watch our language; Let us examine what we say and why we say it. Many times we do not really mean what we say, we are simply mindless to the subtle errors and influences of the culture and our upbringing. Let us stop and think about our own language. Are we promoting a man-centered or a Christ-centered way of thinking inside ourselves and others? It matters, you know. We have a great deal of influence on one another and we tend to repeat what we hear.
So, when someone tells you that they got promoted, or they bought a new car, or they are getting married; let us make sure that we are not using the world's silly sayings and phrases like, "I am so happy for you--you deserve it". Using those terms; actually breeds discontentment and causes others to think that contentment comes from good fortune. True contentment does not depend upon any of those things!
"I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances." Philippians 4:11
Contentment is the being satisfied with the sovereign dispensations of God's providence. It is the opposite of murmuring, which is the spirit of rebellion--the clay saying to the Potter, "Why have You made me thus?" Instead of complaining at his lot--a contented man is thankful that his condition and circumstances are no worse than they are.
Discontent! Was there ever a time when there was so much discontent and restlessness in the world, as there is today? We very much doubt it. Despite our boasted progress, the vast increase of wealth, the time and money expended daily in pleasure--discontent is everywhere! No class is exempt. Everything is in a state of flux, and almost everybody is dissatisfied. Many even among God's own people are affected with the evil spirit of this age.
Contentment! Is such a thing realizable, or is it nothing more than a beautiful ideal, a mere dream of the poet? Is it attainable on earth, or is it restricted to the inhabitants of heaven? If feasible here and now--may it be retained--or are a few brief moments or hours of contentment the most that we may expect in this life?
The force of Paul's statement will be better appreciated, if his condition and circumstances at the time he made it, are kept in mind. When the apostle wrote the words, he was not luxuriating in a special suite in the Emperor's palace--but was in prison "in chains". The contentment which Paul enjoyed, was not the result of congenial and comfortable surroundings. Most people suppose that contentment is impossible, unless one can have the desires of the carnal heart gratified.
A prison is the last place to which they would go--if they were seeking a contented man. This much, then, is clear--contentment comes from within not without; it must be sought from God, not in creature comforts.
Now, there is a vast difference between precept and practice, between the ideal and the realization. But in the case of Paul, contentment was an actual experience! It was something he had learned in the school of Christian experience."Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said--Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." Hebrews 13:5