Dec 22, 2010

Have you learned contentment?

Last time round we began to look at the promise (Phil. 4:12-13) that a contentment independent of our circumstances is given us to in the gospel. And yet, we discovered from Paul it is a lesson that has to be learned and a contentment that needs to be discovered. As we look at the lessons surrounding contentment Thomas Watson’s ‘The Art of Divine Contentment’ will continue to be our guide.

What is contentment?

Thomas Watson:

Contentment is a sweet temper of spirit, wherby a Christian carries himself in an equal poise in every condition.

Contentation is a remedy against all our trouble, an alleviation to all our burdens, it is the cure of care. Contentation, though it be not properly a grace (it is rather a disposition of mind,) yet in it there is a happy temperature and mixture of all the graces: it is a most precious compound, which is made up of faith, patience, meekness, humility, &c. Which are the ingredients put into it.

Have you learnt contentment?

Let’s look at nine tests for the presence in our own lives of a divine contentment.  For some I’ve included a proverb that relates. How do you fair this Christmas time?

1. The content are satisfied with their lot

If you find honey, eat just enough— too much of it, and you will vomit – Proverbs 25:16

2. The content are happy being humble

It is not good to eat too much honey, nor is it honourable to seek one’s own honour – Proverbs 25:27

Whereas the discontent crave attention because they need to feed an ego.

3.  The discontent are never satisfied with what they have and always craving more

The sluggard’s craving will be the death of him, because his hands refuse to work.  All day long he craves for more, but the righteous give without sparing – Prov. 21:25

4.  The content are happy to give away even what they do have

5.  The discontent are often those who overwork

Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint.  Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle – Prov. 23:4

6. The discontent look for love outside of their marriage

May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. Why be captivated, my son, by an adulteress? Why embrace the bosom of another man’s wife? – Proverbs 5:18,20

7. The content accept that the authorities are put there by God

Fear the LORD and the king, my son, and do not join with the rebellious – Proverbs 24:21-22

8.  The content get on with their work

He who tends a fig-tree will eat it’s fruit; and he who looks after his master will be honoured – Proverbs  27:18

9. The content seek after God’s priorities

Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the LORD. There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off – Proverbs 23:17-18

10. The discontent refuse (in fact cannot) rejoice in the blessings of others.

Next time: How is the secret of contentment learned?

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