The Crown of Contentment
“Beware! Don’t always be wishing for what you don’t have. For real life and real living are not related to how rich we are.”
Luke 12:15 (TLB)
Over the years there have been many wise words spoken about contentment: Socrates said, “He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have.” Benjamin Franklin commented, “Content makes poor men rich; discontentment makes rich men poor.” While William Shakespeare wrote, “My crown is in my heart, not on my head, nor decked with diamonds and Indian stones, nor to be seen: My crown is called content: A crown it is, that seldom kings enjoy.”
As humans, we’re born with an insatiable hunger for more. Children want more toys, different toys, bigger toys. When we grow up, we want nicer cars, more clothes, and exotic travel. If we’re single, we want to be married, if married we want children, if we live in a flat, we want a house. Whatever it is, we have a propensity to want more and more. If you think, “I’ll be happy when/if…” then that’s not true contentment.
The most well-known expression of contentment in the Bible is what the apostle Paul said from his prison cell: “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” (Philippians 4:12 NIV)
What was Paul’s secret for being content? Let me suggest it was Jesus. He goes on to say in verse 13, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” When we have Jesus we have everything we ever need and he will give us the strength to be content in whatever situation we find ourselves in. King David had a sense of this when he wrote, “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.” (Psalm 23:1). In the King James Version it reads, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”
Real contentment comes when we stand back and say to ourselves, “I don’t need this, that or the other to be happy.” In a sense, true contentment is simply a matter of trusting what God has done for us in Jesus despite our situation, and accepting and finding satisfaction in whatever He gives us. We have to trust that God knows what he is doing, and when we can rest in the saving work of Christ we will feel contented.
Perhaps the Greek philosopher Epictetus had it right when he said, “I am always content with what happens, for what God chooses is better than what I choose.” We may never be rich in this life, but as a Christian we can be content because we have a richness and fullness of life now and forever more. Now that’s a crown worth wearing.
Father, help us to rely on Christ’s power to be content in every circumstance, and to trust that you will supply all our needs in a way that is best for us.
Study by Barry Robinson
Worldwide Church of God London
Mahatma Gandhi Hall
41 Fitzroy Square
LONDON W1T 6AQ
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Phone: 07958 386944