The Connection of Contentment through Knowing God | March 6th, 2023
I had just finished checking out at the grocery store when I noticed a young woman pushing her cart out the door just in front of me. She was wearing a long, pretty green dress with a floral print. Her shiny brown hair was in an effortless updo. Strapped to the front of her in a carrier was the cutest bald baby boy facing outward, happily kicking his chunky legs. When they reached the warm sunshine, he began to smile and laugh. It was contagious. His mama and I both couldn’t help but smile and laugh, too.
As I watched her strolling to her car with her baby close to her heart and grocery cart filled with food, I thought to myself, She is so well taken care of! It was a beautiful picture of the abundance we have when we allow our heavenly Father to take care of us. She had a quiet sense of peace and calm about her. There was no breathless rushing to get to the next place. She was simply enjoying the day worry-free as she spent this time with her precious baby.
How often do we feel peaceful, calm, and completely content? When we talk to others, it is not uncommon to share or hear about the next “big thing” we are striving to get, do, or be. It seems to be part of our culture to covet what we do not have, so we spend our time and energy focused on getting whatever we think will bring us greater happiness. It’s rare to hear people sharing about their contentment and simply enjoying where God has placed them.
The Meaning of Content
Content is an English word derived from the Latin contentus which means “satisfied.” Growing up with many cats, they are the picture-purrrfect image in my mind of the word content. All they need is a little food and a spot in the sunshine to lay their head and they are as happy as can be.
The 1828 Webster’s Dictionary defines content this way:
Rest or quietness of the mind in the present condition; satisfaction which holds the mind in peace, restraining complaint, opposition, or further desire, and often implying a moderate degree of happiness.
Whether we realize it or not, at the root of discontentment is an accusation against God’s character. Discontentment says, “God has not given me all that I need.”
It is impossible to be content when we are continually striving to gain more of what the world offers.
John D. Rockefeller built Standard Oil into the largest and most profitable company in the world, becoming the world’s richest man. He was once asked, “How much money is enough?” He replied “Just a little bit more.”
Puritan pastor Jeremiah Burroughs stated a good reason for this discontent in his book The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment (published in 1648):
My brethren, the reason why you do not have contentment in the things of the world is not that you do not have enough of them. The reason is that they are not things proportional to that immortal soul of yours that is capable of God Himself.
We can strive all we want for all the things…greater riches, more wisdom, increased power, and getting praise from others for all the wonderful things we think we’ve done. It might increase our pride, but none of it will ever increase our contentment. Instead, God tells us to glory in knowing Him! Being content is connected to knowing who God is.
Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, nor let the rich man glory in his riches; but let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,” says the Lord. Jeremiah 9:23-24
One of God’s amazing attributes is sovereignty. It is incommunicable which means it belongs to God alone. He is in complete control and rules over all things. There is nothing that happens outside of His power and authority.
Although we have free will to make our own decisions and often strive to be in control, we are not sovereign. But if we understand that God is in full control, even when things don’t go the way we planned or expected, we can rest in Him because of His sovereignty. This is a comfort to us when we understand He always wants what is best for us. Whether we go through times of blessing or suffering, He is going to use it for our refining and for His glory because He loves us.
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
The Apostle Paul knew what it was like to have plenty and he also knew what it was like to be in need. Yet, he valued knowing Jesus Christ more than anything else.
More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, Philippians 3:8
The more we know Christ, the more we learn to trust Him for everything. When in need, we must trust Him to provide for us and not give in to worry or fear. At other times while we are experiencing prosperity and a comfortable life, we can easily forget our need for the Lord and trust in our own strength for provision. A grateful heart helps us to be humble as we acknowledge where our help comes from.
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17
George Müller (1805 – 1898) was a Christian evangelist and director of the Ashley Down orphanage in Bristol, England. He was firmly committed to the principle of not making his financial needs known to anyone but God through prayer. He cared for 10,024 orphans during his lifetime and the children never lacked proper food, clothes, or warmth.
Müller knew the importance of knowing God, so every morning after breakfast there was a time of Bible reading and prayer. Upon leaving the orphanage, each child was given a Bible of their very own along with a tin trunk containing two changes of clothing.
Müller kept several journals and recorded many incredible miracles of God’s provision and the ways He answered prayer. Here is one of those miracles he wrote down:
One morning, all the plates and cups and bowls on the table were empty. There was no food in the larder and no money to buy food. The children were standing, waiting for their morning meal, when Müller said, “Children, you know we must be in time for school.” Then lifting up his hands he prayed, “Dear Father, we thank Thee for what Thou art going to give us to eat.”
There was a knock at the door. The baker stood there, and said, “Mr. Müller, I couldn’t sleep last night. Somehow I felt you didn’t have bread for breakfast, and the Lord wanted me to send you some. So I got up at 2 a.m. and baked some fresh bread, and have brought it.”
Mr. Müller thanked the baker, and no sooner had he left, when there was a second knock at the door. It was the milkman. He announced that his milk cart had broken down right in front of the orphanage, and he would like to give the children his cans of fresh milk so he could empty his wagon and repair it.
Müller knew God through reading His Word and was able to trust Him for all of his needs. He did not strive. When we know who God is, we can rest and be content in Him. He is faithful to abundantly provide.
And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19
Heir of an Abundant Life
Once we have believed in Jesus Christ as our Savior who paid the penalty of our sin for us on the cross, our sin debt is cancelled. We are made righteous in His sight and are adopted by grace through faith as His own. We are a part of His family forever and are given all the rights of an heir of God. This includes an abundant life!
I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10b
The abundance Jesus is talking about is not material abundance for which He speaks against pursuing:
And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Luke 12:15
The abundance Jesus is referring to is everything we need to live a life of godliness so we can become more like Him and bring Him glory, our ultimate purpose. It’s where our true contentment comes from. Knowing God makes all of His resources available to us for our perfect provision.
His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 2 Peter 1:3
God abundantly equips us for every good work He has planned for us to do:
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:8
If God gives us the skills to serve Him, He will always provide and equip us with everything we need to be able to do it well. I have found this to be true in my own life, even when I thought my need to be too great to be able to serve in the way He asked me. But He has always provided abundantly more than I expected, meeting my every need.
God abundantly answers our prayers:
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us. Ephesians 3:20
We cannot wrap our limited mind around the abundant ways in which He is answering our prayers! We often don’t know what to ask for, but God always knows exactly what we need and perfectly provides above and beyond.
I love how Baptist minister and expositor Alexander Maclaren (1826-1910) describes it:
Confidently and boldly as we may offer our prayers, and largely as we may expect, the answer is ever more than the petition. For indeed, in every act of His quickening grace, in every God-given increase of our knowledge of God, in every bestowment of His fulness, there is always more bestowed than we receive, more than we know even while we possess it. Like some gift given in the dark, its true preciousness is not discerned when it is first received. The gleam of the gold does not strike our eye all at once.
God abundantly provides His power so we can grasp His deep love for us:
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:16-19
Nothing can compare to the riches of God that He lovingly shares with His own so we can be completely content in Him. The more we grow in our knowledge of who God is, the more we experience an abundant life here on earth until it is ultimately fulfilled in eternity when we finally see Jesus face to face.
How reassuring it is to know that when we trust our heavenly Father in all things, we can rest knowing we are so well taken care of by Him. What a beautiful picture of our abundance in Christ!
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