Thursday, March 11, 2010

30 Days of Character Development -Contentment

Yesterday I shared my experience of discontentment and today today I want to focus on how to learn the secret of contentment in your life.

First you have to realize that discontentment is part of who we are as humans. As I said in my last post, Eve had everything but still wanted the one thing she could not have. She did not have cultural influences or even friends who had more but she did have the same enemy that we have. And that enemy is always whispering into our thoughts that we are missing out on something or something is being withheld from us that we deserve. Those whispers turn into thoughts that turn into feelings of discontentment

In Philippians 4:12 Paul says:

"I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want."

Notice two things about this scripture;
1. Paul had to LEARN to be content
2 Contentment is a secret

First, we see that scripture tells us that contentment is a Learned Behavior it does not come naturally for any of us and second we are told that the key to contentment is a secret that we must discover for ourselves.

Paul was actually in prison handcuffed to a prison guard during the time he wrote this.

My personal journey to the secret of contentment started with:

First, I "learned" to put my confidence in Jesus Christ to strengthen me to endure every situation I encounter in life. This was something I had to learn and it came through trials and difficulties I experienced. When you go through a very difficult time in life and you come to the other side of it seeing that God's strength and hand was on you the whole way, you come out of it with a whole new perspective. You don't take things for granted like you used to, you feel content with the simple things in life because you realize how quickly even those can be gone. Bottom line, it comes down to a change in your thought process and perspective in life and mostly WHO are you trusting with your circumstances, You or God.

Second, I "learned" that I'm responsible for my personal joy, and that my joy has to be in Him—not in people or in circumstances. We can not look for our husbands, our friends, our family, our house, our kids, or our jobs to bring us contentment and joy (these two are partners). Contentment and Joy are leaned behaviors, they are choices we make. Bottom line, it comes down to letting go of expectations that something other than God and you will bring contentment into your life .

Third, I "learned" that the grass is not always greener on the other side. I have learned to be content in the moment not waiting for the "It will be better when.." I would be happy if...."
"When this situation is better then I will be content", "If I had the life that.....has." Bottom line, it comes down to stop waiting for a particular status or thing or person or achievement before you "learn" contentment. You can have it right now!

Fourth, I "learned" to be thankful in the present, today, this hour, this minute. Bottom line, be thankful for what we have (Eph 5:20) for our circumstances (1 Thess. 5:16-18) and all we have to do during our day. (Col. 3:17)

Fifth, I "learned" to get involved in helping others. God has given us varied gifts in this area and the way I help may be entirely different than you but with whatever talent or gift God has given you. But whatever that gift is use it to help those God brings into our lives. Bottom line, DO GOOD.

Some Questions to consider as you are Learning to be Content:
1. What is the underlying need you have that causes you to compare? (need for approval, affirmation, credit or respect)
2. What is the underlying issue you have that causes you to be insecure? (low-self esteem, need for acceptance)
3. What is the underlying reason you have to want what others have? (fear, ungrateful, anger, life's not fair)

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