God’s Design for Contentment | April 8th, 2019
It’s that time of year again when we begin to get the itch to declutter and deep clean. Spring is a season that energizes us to get out of hibernation and get moving to make everything around us feel fresh and new again. And clutter-free.
Once I start on an organizing and cleaning spree, it’s hard for me to stop. I love to minimize, tossing out unwanted belongings, and scrub every surface till it sparkles. But I have found whenever I do that I often get another kind of itch…the kind that wants to replace what just I got rid of for the newer version.
Whenever we buy something new, it provides a temporary satisfaction, though very short-lived, and usually no more than a few days. Another name for it is “retail therapy.”
It’s all very exhilarating to see the clothes, shoes, home decor items, and technical gadgets all shiny and new in the store, but once any of it comes home and is opened or worn, the shine quickly wears off and begins to fade.
The soon-to-be old styles and models are cleverly replaced by the manufacturers with new improvements and features that are hard to pass up. We struggle to stay content for very long.
Although we know the pursuit and purchase of new things will never fully satisfy us, we still seem to keep striving for more. We think to ourselves, perhaps it’s that next big purchase that is finally going to satisfy.
Or, we think we will be content once we have enough to impress others. However, we soon discover most people are too busy trying to impress us with their newest purchases to even notice.
Satisfaction Not Guaranteed
The latest Consumer Credit release (March 2019) from the Federal Reserve showed that credit card debt in the U.S. has reached a record high at $4.03 trillion with revolving debt (balance carried month to month accumulating interest and more debt over time) at $1.05 trillion. And we are still not content.
King Solomon, the wisest and richest man who ever lived, knew by personal experience that you could never be content with more stuff. He stated,“Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless.” Ecclesiastes 5:10
No matter how much you buy, having more stuff will never quench the desire for contentment. In fact, it actually distracts from that which brings much greater fulfillment.
Although it only costs dollars and cents to buy something in the store, there is always another cost involved. As philosopher Henry David Thoreau once said, “The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.”
Think of it this way…you are not buying things only with money. Rather, you are buying them with hours from your life. Your newest purchase takes extra energy to maintain it and extra worry as it is one more thing you own that might get broken, scuffed, or stolen.
It’s All About Connection
Instead of focusing your energy on the desire to acquire the latest, greatest, and newest, focus your energy on the desire to connect. God created us for relationships, first with Him and then with others. He made us this way so that nothing else could fully satisfy. He is all about people, not things!
When you get to the end of your life, people are not going to be talking about your amazing wardrobe, the luxe car you drove, or the beautiful furniture in your house. No, they are going to be talking about how you impacted their life and the way you took the time to invest in them and your relationship.
And in the end, you are not going to be asking to be surrounded by your pretty things. You are going to want to have your friends and family around you – those with whom you had deep, meaningful relationships.
Connect with God
The most important relationship you can ever have is the one you have with God which determines where you will spend eternity after you die. A personal relationship can only begin when you realize your need for Him, repent of your sin, and ask Him to be your Savior and Lord of your life. It is the one relationship that will never fade away. He promises to never leave you or forsake you.
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
Having a personal relationship with God means talking to Him daily through prayer, reading His Word, and meditating on what you read so you can get to know Him better. It’s amazing how much you can learn about Him if you just spend a little time with Him every day.
Your relationship with God will always give more to you than you can ever give to Him. It will fill you up and encourage you unlike other relationships that may feel draining and energy-zapping. Others in your life will come and go, but He will never stop pursuing you because He loves you.
When you invite Jesus Christ to come into your life, you are also given the Holy Spirit as your Counselor. He is able to help you become transformed from having a mind set on worldly desires to one set on that which God desires so you can finally experience true contentment. Having the Holy Spirit as your Counselor is so much better than any retail therapy!
Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. Romans 8:5
Connect with Others
Many years ago, I had a client who told me he didn’t like people. He did not date, had no close friends, and chose to do as much as possible by himself. He would spend the weekends hanging out at bars and restaurants to listen to live music, always alone.
I was so sad for him because he had no idea what he was missing out on. I thought, if he would just invest a little time giving and receiving in a relationship, he would be able to experience such incredible joy because that’s how God designed it!
God created you to glorify Him in all you do which includes being others-focused. It is a major part of His fulfilling purpose for your life. We all want to be genuinely known, understood, and sought out because we have a desire to connect on a deeper level.
If you are a follower of Christ, you cannot be obedient to Him if you are completely self-focused. Jesus commanded you to love others so they can come to know Him through you. How can you share God’s love if you are not involved in a relationship with other people?
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35
When you are focused on others rather than on yourself, you become more aware of who around you is looking for
If you feel a bit insecure and find this is difficult for you, spend more time growing your relationship with God so He can do His work in you to help you become confident knowing who you are in Him as His chosen and very loved child.
Be Open to New Friends
It’s not always easy to find people you really enjoy being around and with whom you want to spend your time. That’s one reason it feels so much easier to stay in your tight circle of friendships that are comfortable to you. You may not even have much of a desire to be open to new relationships.
But being open is part of being others-focused. Relationships change and grow just as we do. A few stay for a lifetime, but most come and go. So be open to new friends who come into your life. You never know the blessings that are in store for you when you give and receive through friendship.
There are many different ways new friendships can start. If you do not have any close friends, ask God to show you
Don’t wait for others to invite you to connect. Be friendly and take the initiative toward a new friendship by inviting someone to get together with you. Over time, the more you invest in your friend and they in you, the more your friendship will grow.
A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24
Be Committed and Intentional
Good, solid friendships require commitment. It’s easy to be a friend to someone when they are healthy, happy, and fun to be around. But the test of a true friendship is when you help to bear their burdens with them, being uplifting and supporting when they are going through the tough stuff. Be the kind of friend you would want to have when you are going through a difficult time.
Share each other’s troubles and problems, and so obey our Lord’s command. Galatians 6:2
Be intentional. Stay in close touch with your friends so you know what is going on in their lives. Spend time talking with them by phone or plan to meet in person so you can find out how they are really doing. You are not going to get the full story in a few text messages.
When you regularly keep up with what is going on in your friend’s life, you can grow the relationship by asking about specific things they have shared with you. For example, if your friend tells you she has a job interview on Friday, call her the next day to ask how it went. Or, perhaps your friend has an important medical test coming up. Let her know you are praying for her and then follow up after the test to find out the results.
Celebrate birthdays, new jobs, and other milestones with friends. Knowing what is happening in their lives allows you to be able to be intentional with your connection.
When you give of yourself by focusing on others, you experience true contentment that comes from obeying God, living out His command to love others.
The Faith Connection
As you are focused on living for Christ, you will find that godly friendships are precious treasures. They help you grow in your faith to have complete trust and confidence in God. Did you know contentment has a direct connection to your faith?
Restlessness comes from desires and longings that distract you from trusting in God for all you need. When you completely trust Him, you do not have to strive for anything to make you feel happy or content. You simply rest in Him. He knows exactly what you need and will provide abundantly for you.
Earthly treasures and pleasures will disappoint every time, never bringing lasting happiness because they can never bring contentment. As your appetite for more increases, satisfaction and its power to appease your longings decrease.
There is only one way to eliminate your restlessness, putting an end to those desires that distract from your true contentment. It is found in Psalm 37:4.
Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
When you seek delight or pleasure in intimately knowing God in the way He makes Himself known to you through His power, goodness, wisdom, love, and grace, the deepest desires of your heart will begin to align with His.
You delight in His power, knowing that He can do anything He desires and immeasurably more than you could ever ask or imagine.
You delight in His goodness knowing that He takes pleasure in your happiness, giving good things to you because He is your Father who loves you and you are His precious child.
You delight in His wisdom, confident that He knows the very best plan for your life – one filled with purpose and contentment.
You delight in His love, knowing there is nothing you can do, good or bad, to change it or be separated from it.
You delight in His grace knowing He gives you favor through forgiveness and abundant blessings even though you have done nothing to deserve it.
Satisfaction is Guaranteed
Your contentment is based not on the material riches of the world but on God’s bountiful riches of connection. The blessings you receive from connecting with Him in a deep, personal way and those you receive from connecting with others in a committed, supportive, and faith-building way provide the kind of satisfaction you could never experience when buying new things, no matter how much they shine.
As I was sitting at my jewelry desk working on new designs for spring, I found myself thinking a little more deeply about connection. I had picked up a quartz druzy connector to add a bit of sparkle to the turquoise beaded bracelet I was making. It is called a “connector” because it has a small metal ring on each end to connect the beads on both sides of it.
I thought about how God’s perfect plan for our contentment is so much like this bracelet. Because of His incredible love for us, He designed a way to keep us closely connected to Him as our Father and to others through friendship for the kind of contentment that out-sparkles everything else.
Sparkler #1: Prayer
If you are struggling with contentment, ask God to take away your desire for the emptiness that the world offers and replace it with a desire for deep connection with Him and others so you can share His love and experience true fulfillment.
Sparkler #2: Action
If you do not have a personal relationship with Jesus, take the first step by realizing your need for Him and ask Him to forgive your sins and be Lord and Savior of your life.
Sparkler #3: Challenge
When you begin to feel the urge for some retail therapy, make an appointment with your Counselor, the Holy Spirit. Take some time to delight in Him, filling your longings with the only One who can truly satisfy.
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