Live Like You Mean It!
The afflicted will eat and be satisfied; Those who [diligently] seek Him and require Him [as their greatest need] will praise the Lord. May your hearts live forever!
One of the most destructive attitudes in a person’s life is to demand, “I deserve better.” Psychologist and writer Larry Crabb observed that many Christians see themselves as the center of the universe, and to them God exists only to make them happy and comfortable. Crabb said that we treat God like a “specially attentive waiter” giving Him our orders and tipping Him when He performs well, but complaining when we don’t get exactly what we expected.
A far more accurate perspective is that we care “poor, blind, and naked”(Revelation 3:17) before the majesty and holiness of Almighty God. Everything we are and everything we have are gifts from Him. If we grasp that fact, we, the poor, will be far more satisfied with the gifts and opportunities God gives us- instead of demanding our way and complaining when we don’t get it.
With humility, we pursue God and delight to know Him. We increasingly realize that He is our most valuable treasure, and our hearts sing with gratitude. We are amazed that the Creator of the universe would love us and involve us in the greatest adventure people have ever known. That’s when our hearts “live forever.”
Do you want what people call “the high life”? Then go a step lower down.
What would it take to make you content with life? That’s a great question and were we to ask that in a gathering, the variety of answers would at least be equal to the number of people gathered. Advertising majors on creating dissatisfaction so that products and services can sell. Education institutions major in creating a desire to be more and to have more. The entertainment industry wants us to seek to be more wowed by the experience and they create a sense of incompletion so we will search for the “magical moment.” Discontent is the constant companion of many.
“What leads to [the unending] quarrels and conflicts among you? Do they not come from your [hedonistic] desires that wage war in your [bodily] members [fighting for control over you]? You are jealous and covet [what others have] and your lust goes unfulfilled; so you murder. You are envious and cannot obtain [the object of your envy]; so you fight and battle. You do not have because you do not ask [it of God]. You ask [God for something] and do not receive it, because you ask with wrong motives [out of selfishness or with an unrighteous agenda], so that [when you get what you want] you may spend it on your [hedonistic] desires.”
How easy it is to forget to trust in God to give us what we need. How easy it is to confuse desire and need. How easy it is to be discontent. Paul discovered and shared with us a great life view:
“Not that I speak from [any personal] need, for I have learned to be content [and self-sufficient through Christ, satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or uneasy] regardless of my circumstances. I know how to get along and live humbly [in difficult times], and I also know how to enjoy abundance and live in prosperity. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret [of facing life], whether well-fed or going hungry, whether having an abundance or being in need. I can do all things [which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me [to fulfill His purpose—I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency; I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace.]”
I believe one of the distinguishing things about Christians is their attitude of contented peace. Not complacency or lack of ambition but learning to be content with life as it is while at the same time striving for improvement. Again Paul sums it up:
“But godliness actually is a source of great gain when accompanied by contentment [that contentment which comes from a sense of inner confidence based on the sufficiency of God]. For we have brought nothing into the world, so [it is clear that] we cannot take anything out of it, either. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who [are not financially ethical and] crave to get rich [with a compulsive, greedy longing for wealth] fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction [leading to personal misery]. For the love of money [that is, the greedy desire for it and the willingness to gain it unethically] is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves [through and through] with many sorrows. But as for you, O man of God, flee from these things; aim at and pursue righteousness [true goodness, moral conformity to the character of God], godliness [the fear of God], faith, love, steadfastness, and gentleness.”
1 Timothy 6:6-11
This scripture echoes the teaching of Jesus who told us to “seek first the kingdoms of God and all these things will be added unto you.”
In our pandemic world, discontent seems to have become the norm even for Christians. We chafe at having to live with change and limitations. Yet perhaps we ought to be grateful instead for the small things and the small victories we have been given. While many of our old norms are no longer available, we have learned new and exciting ways to gather, to connect and to worship. For many the idea that we could meet for Bible study virtually wasn’t on the radar prior to the pandemic and yet we have now discovered it’s value. Those who join us each Sunday morningfor our Conference Call gathering have discovered the blessing of being able to “be together” with the group even if you’re out of town. I believe in the days ahead that those who choose to content themselves with God are going to experience Him and His power in ways that have not entered our thoughts. As Paul would say, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither has entered into the heart of man what God has prepared for those who love His appearing.”
The blessing of contentment is the understanding that we rely totally on the gifts and blessings given to us by our loving Father. And when we learn that, in due season, He will always provide what we need as we wait in contented trust. To live in contentment is to count your blessings. When you begin to count your blessings, you realize how often and the many ways God has provided not only need but blessings above need. When you learn to seek His kingdom first, to place the greatest value of life in your relationship with Him, and to value what is waiting in eternity, you learn contented living.
“Trust [rely on and have confidence] in the Lord and do good; Dwell in the land and feed [securely] on His faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, And He will give you the desires and petitions of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; Trust in Him also and He will do it. He will make your righteousness [your pursuit of right standing with God] like the light, And your judgment like [the shining of] the noonday [sun]. Be still before the Lord; wait patiently for Him and entrust yourself to Him; Do not fret (whine, agonize) because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes. Cease from anger and abandon wrath; Do not fret; it leads only to evil. For those who do evil will be cut off, But those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land. For yet a little while and the wicked one will be gone [forever]; Though you look carefully where he used to be, he will not be [found]. But the humble will [at last] inherit the land And will delight themselves in abundant prosperity and peace.”
Let us live like we mean it!
Dr. John Thompson