Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Comprehending Contentment

I was looking up some scriptures on contentment to share with a friend of mine. There are a number of scriptures in the Bible about contentment that relate to material possessions and the like, but out of all that I searched through, five scriptures really struck me today.

I've heard it said that if something is repeated two or three times, it's of utmost importance, so take note. When I was compiling scriptures for Amy, over and over again I ran across this certain instruction -- even from Jesus himself.

The instruction was to find contentment in myself just as I am.

I really had no idea that there were even specific instructions like that, much less so many! (Bear in mind, all of these are from the Message Bible, so the word "content" will not be found in your KJV/NIV translation, but the concept will be the same.)

At this time of transformative effort (i.e., the resolve of the New Year), I find myself at points of both success and failure. The success brings a sense of pride, whereas the failure brings, well, a sense of failure. And guilt, shame, frustration, and anger. In the middle of that cycle of nastiness, it's very easy to really not even like myself, much less to be content with who I am as I am.

In addition to that one thing, how often do I say that I'm...

...not as kind as that person.
...not as motherly as she is.
...not as spiritual as so-and-so.
...not as fertile/physically capable as so many.
...not as articulate as fill-in-the-blank.
...not as talented/crafty/hospitable as someone I won't mention whose name sounds like mine, but starts with an "R."

Oh, how the list goes on.

I prosecute myself instead of quieting my soul. I excruciate myself instead of settling into contentment. I see now just how wrong I've been, and I'm taking note...

"You're blessed when you're content
with just who you are—no more, no less.
That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners
of everything that can't be bought."
Matthew 5:5

"Do you want to stand out?
Then step down. Be a servant.
If you puff yourself up,
you'll get the wind knocked out of you.
But if you're content to simply be yourself,
your life will count for plenty."
Matthew 23:11 MSG

"...What I'm saying is,
If you walk around with your nose in the air,
you're going to end up flat on your face.
But if you're content to be simply yourself,
you will become more than yourself."
Luke 14:10b MSG

"Jesus commented,
"This tax man, not the other,
went home made right with God.
If you walk around with your nose in the air,
you're going to end up flat on your face,
but if you're content to be simply yourself,
you will become more than yourself."
Luke 18:14 MSG

"So be content with who you are,
and don't put on airs.
God's strong hand is on you;
he'll promote you at the right time.
Live carefree before God;
he is most careful with you."
I Peter 5:6 MSG


  • The Dukes Family

    Great post. I've been thinking so much about the contentment issue this week, spurred on by Amy's posts, and this was great to read. We all have that list of wishing we had the qualities of so-and-so ... you have so many qualities that I wish I had more of. Maybe we have some of those desires or longings so that we strive to be our very best, and maybe we have some so that we can learn to appreciate our differences and rely on the body of Christ. I think contentment is probably harder to come by in America than other places but definitely something worth seeking.

  • Katie

    wow. That first scripture hit home. Big time.

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