There is a tendency to play the blame game on Planet Earth. The atmosphere seems infected with discontent. We blame our spouse, our jobs, our various situations for all our woes, worries and wants.
In times past, it was not unusual for people to remain at their workplace for most of their careers. They were happy to be able to work. It was considered a blessing to have a job or career. They put their shoulder to the task, finding honor in hard work and a job well done, There was a sense of satisfaction and self respect in serving others and being the breadwinner.
People toughed it out, learned from, and grew with the difficult people in life. Some were even transformed by learning to accept, love, and forgive.
People did not feel “stuck” because they lived in the same place from cradle to grave. There was a sense of connection and support. There was pride in your family and your roots going back sometimes generations.
Church was also something you didn’t “shop” for, as if it were some sort of product designed to people please. You could stay and still “go deeper”, but deeper meant you became a better servant of all, not an obnoxious armchair philosopher.
I’m not trying to be a critic here either, but simply looking at the various pockets of discontent in my own life, as I mentally time travel backwards into it.
This little expedition calls into remembrance various Souls who entered and exited my life along the way like tumbleweeds blown by the wind. There seemed to be no stability in them; the grass was always greener on the other side of the fence, and it was always about “moving on”.
Admittedly there are circumstances where the heat really is too great, and it may be prudent to hit the trail, such as abusive relationships. I certainly can identify and empathize with that.
What I’m addressing, however, is this pervasive spirit of discontent where nothing is ever right or “ideal”. Many seem restlessly on the move as if there is something driving them like cattle. Or if anything displeases them even mildly, they become magicians and disappear!
St. Paul addresses this matter of contentment in 1 Timothy 6:6-11 “… godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content… For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness…” For the sincere Christian, these are our prime directives.
Our world schools us in the idea that “more” and/or “different” is always better, but not necessarily. If we go back to the beginning of this chapter, we notice that the message is addressed to “servants under the yoke of masters”. Paul isn’t cutting anybody any slack here as far as the attitude of humility – godliness with contentment. (Nor is he advocating slavery as some say.) No, he is addressing a Godly and contented attitude.
What that amounts to is a mind that acknowledges the Lord’s presence in the here and now, and surrenders itself to God – in whatever circumstances one finds oneself, for the sake of inner transformation.
The Apostle also spoke of this in Philippians 4:11. “… I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” And he provides some dynamic principles in the preceding verses to help bring us into a contented state of mind in the here and now.
Philippians 4:4-9 states, ”Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice… Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.”
Our rejoicing is not in what’s “better” or “more”, but in the Lord Himself. Right here and right now.
“Be careful for nothing” is the KJV way of saying, “Have no anxiety about anything.” Put it to prayer with thanksgiving. Surrender it. Lay it to rest in His hands – the One Who is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. That is the cure for anxiety, and guarantees a peace from God which is incomprehensible – in the midst of any and all circumstances. Knee jerk fight or flight just won’t bring this kind of inner peace or powerful transformation.
The thoughts that fill our mind need to be on “The Six Whatsoevers”. What if we chose one Whatsoever per day, and committed to featuring that as the dominant thought of the day? Could each Whatsoever transform our inner landscape in six days toward a “new creation”?
“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus…” (Philippians 2:5). This is the Mind from which the Godly and contented mind comes. We’re being admonished to allow the Mind of Christ to do its work within us, to change our inner state.
“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” (Colossians 3:1,2).
We can reckon it so that we are risen in and with Him – “far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come.” (Ephesians 1:21).
What could be better than that for the spiritual man or woman who by faith sees the heights s/he already has in Jesus Christ?