Showing posts with label contentment. Show all posts
Showing posts with label contentment. Show all posts

Monday, April 30, 2012

Contentment Part Four: Keeping a Soft Heart

This article wraps up my series on Contentment.  Here are the previous parts of the series if you've missed any:

Part One: Contentment instead of worrying
Part Two:  No Complaining!
Part Three: Coveting and finding joy in our unique circumstances

Last Wednesday, I talked about coveting and today I'm talking about envy.  I've always had a hard time understanding the difference between the two;  however, now that I've studied them both a little, I think I realize the distinction:

Coveting is an unquenchable thirst for the things of this world---material things, specifically; but, perhaps, personality traits or life circumstances as well.

Envy is more of a resentment of the joys and positive things in another person's life.

Where coveting is a verb, an active and conscious action, envy is a personality trait that festers and grows.  It can start out small, but it's fed by irrational thoughts and fears.  

James 3:16:  "For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there."

Isn't that the truth!  How many times has your respect for someone grown to admiration, then to desire to "be like her", then to feelings of inadequacy when she succeeds, then to wishing she wouldn't succeed so much, then to wanting to sabotage her success now and then, and finally to complete contempt for every good thing in her life?

That's envy.  Jealousy.  With it comes hatred, malice, and a little voice inside that tells you that you just don't measure up.  

I've been on both the giving and receiving ends of envy.  There are people I know who have lost incredible amounts of weight and I've been envious of how easy that comes for them.  I think I've gotten to the point of wishing she wouldn't succeed so much before my "voice of worthiness" speaks up and reminds me who I belong to.

As for being on the receiving end, let's just say that I've got a loving and present husband, obedient and healthy kids, and a very peaceful home life.  This doesn't sit well with some who are struggling in these areas and I truly, from the heart, feel for those who envy this good life to the point of maliciousness.

This verse in James is surrounded by wisdom---wisdom about wisdom!

James 3:13-18:  "Who is wise and understanding among you?  Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom.  But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth.  This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic.  For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.  But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.  Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace."

I think the last verse just really sums up this whole series on contentment:

"Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace."

Being content is not a place we somehow and someday arrive to and stay.  It's a conscious daily choice to sow seeds of peacefulness and reap the blessings.  Instead of actively seeking contentment for ourselves, I think that we will be much more successful at finding peace when we seek to make peace abound around us.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Contentment Part Three: Finding Joy In Our Unique Circumstances

We took the kids to the park for baseball and a picnic on Sunday morning.  Me and baby Kynthia took the picture!
Hebrews 13:5  "Let your conduct be without covetousness;  be content with such things as you have.  For He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you or forsake you.' "

This is one that I don't feel like I deal with so much at this time in my life, though I've definitely dealt with it before!  I honestly can't think of anything that I covet.  Yay!!  This is a welcome reprieve for me in this series on Contentment!  Monday, I talked about worry---that was a convicting one.  However, yesterday's discussion on complaining was the big whammy!  It sounds like that one made an impression on others, as well, since I got a lot of feedback about it!

Anyway, back to coveting.

Mom taught me that the grass is not always greener on the other side, and it didn't take much life experience to prove that to be true!  With other people's "stuff" comes other people's junk.  I think the main reason why I don't deal with a covetous spirit very often is because I've come to realize that God uniquely made me to be able to handle/enjoy the blessings and trials that are in my own life.

The circumstances of my own situation dictate what sorts of things will be beneficial for me.  I don't have designer clothes like some because I have a new baby every year who would spit up on them and stain them! (I couldn't fit into them anyway since I'm always pregnant or recovering!)  However, I do have a lot of cute maternity things, as well as the ability to design and sew my own clothing, so I don't feel like I'm always donning a shapeless parachute!

I don't have a fancy sports car---because what I need is a 15-passenger van.  I don't have a sprawling mansion---because what I can manage is a modest, 4-bedroom home in town.  I haven't been blessed with extraordinary beauty and a flawless figure---because I have a personality that desires attention and the Lord knows that wouldn't be beneficial to me or my marriage!

I don't struggle very often with discontent in the area of greed because I am peaceful and happy in the life God has given me!  I know that God will never leave me nor forsake me---therefore, I can be content in knowing that he is working out the perfect set of blessings for my unique circumstances!

Did you miss Part One on Worry??  How about Part Two on Complaining?  Check them out and be blessed!

Linking with:
Loving Our Children Tuesday at Teaching What Is Good 

This article was written for the 61st edition of The Christian Home Magazine.  Check it out and be blessed!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Contentment Part One: Finding Contentment Instead of Worrying

A peaceful place near Wallowa Lake in Eastern Oregon
Contentment:  an uncomplaining acceptance of my currently unchangeable circumstances

Worry and anxiety cause discontent in our lives.  If we are anxious about our current state in life: husband's job, medical issues, children's disobedience, we miss seeing the good ways that God is providing for us and sustaining us.

Matthew 6:25, 34
  "Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink;  nor about your body, what you will put on.  Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about it's own things.  Sufficient for the day is it's own trouble."

In most cases, there's nothing we can do to fix our problems on our own.  When we turn our worry into contentment, we are in a better frame of mind to see the true magnitude of an issue and hear God's direction on how to deal with it.

We've heard that God will supply all our needs according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.  Futhermore, 1Timothy 6:6-8 reminds us "Now godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing into this world, an it is certain we can carry nothing out.  And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content."

If we put aside our worry that we will not have the basics we need to sustain our lives, (food, water, shelter) we can begin to focus on our other anxieties ans see that everything else is an issue of trusting in God an being content with his plan.

Do you have a rebellious daughter?  What else can you do but pray for help and follow God's leading?  God's answer will be better than anything you can come up with on your own, so be content while he works it out.

Is your financial peace buried deep in unmanageable debt? All you can do is seek God's direction and follow his steps to get out of it.  Be content while he works out the process.

Matthew makes a good point when he writes, "Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?" (6:27)

We've got nothing to gain by giving into anxiety.  In fact, it's a major hindrance to finding peace and accepting the place God has us in for today.

What are some ways in which you practice giving your worries to God and being content where you are?

This article was written for The Christian Home magazine, Issue 59.  Check it out for lots of great articles from other talented Christian authors!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...