Sunday, September 6, 2009

A cheat sheet for contentment

Our lives tend to be very full and there are times, I've found, when a few simple reminders are more effective than an entire book ( assuming you've read the entire book first, of course). I've been through the Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment four times in the last five years and still need steady reminders. The following is the handout each lady received at the close of our study of The Rare Jewel. I think of it as a contentment cheat sheet.

This first list is from a wonderful and very accessible book by Linda Dillow called Calm My Anxious Heart. This simple little list has helped me over and over to overcome discontentment. Whenever you find yourself discontent you will most likely be able to trace it's origin back to one of the following thought patterns. Think of it as a diagnostic tool.
  • Never allow yourself to complain about anything - not even the weather
  • Never picture yourself in any other circumstances or someplace else
  • Never compare your lot with another's
  • Never allow yourself to wish this or that had been otherwise.
  • Never dwell on tomorrow - remember that [tomorrow] is God's, not ours.
The following is a list of Scriptures to have on hand for dealing with the rumblings of discontent in your soul:

"Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs." 1 Tim. 6:6-10

"Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me." Philippians 4:11-13

"Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world— the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever." 1 John 2:15-17

"Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." Psalm 73:25-26

"One thing have I asked of the LORD,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to inquire in his temple." Psalm 27:4

And so I will end my series on contentment with a word of encouragement from John Piper:
"If your godliness has freed you from the desire to be rich and has helped you be content with what you have, then your godliness is tremendously profitable...Godliness that overcomes the craving for material wealth produces great spiritual wealth."

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Laurie

Thank you so much for your last (and last!) post on contentment and taking me/us to the Scriptures that throw light. What a relief and great grace and wonder that all my sins and junk and also rebellious discontent have been placed on the spotless Jesus – He has paid the full price. More motivation not to mess around with discontentment.

Thanks for the diagnostic question: why am I so restless, unthankful and prone to discontent? Also for the list on the fridge: one of the reminders to be strict about being really and consistently thankful.

Yep, that deadly comparison-game – kills contentment quickly or kindles pride. I’m again spurred on to godliness plus contentment. Even this God works in me – wanting contentment and with Jesus’ help the gap between my moans and contentment DOES shrink. And we also have the Holy Spirit – no excuse for my pathetic discontent and strive against – as you put it – “the rumblings of discontent.”

Thanks for Phil 4:11-13. We teach our children and grandchildren how to tie their shoelaces (well these days it is Velcro!). But in principle we teach them how to ………..and we can fill in many examples. How about teaching children contentment. Lots of opportunities to do so!

The shocking result of: loving the things of the world: devoid of God’s love – that is shocking for the Christian. 1 John 2:15-17. The things of the world are so IN OUR FACE – it is just everywhere without even looking for it..

Do I receive from the Father or do I slurp up all the world gives? 1 John 2:16.

“Pride in possessions” – the poor can also stumble here. Convict me, Holy Spirit!

Thanks for Psalm 73:26 God my portion – oh I have everything – rich, rich, rich. My cup overflows.

I end this long response with this Psalm-picture and kindest greetings,

Psalm 131:2 But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me.

Is there going to be another book by Challies? Or you?

Estelle Lobban from a grey but mellow “Northern edge of London”

Laurie M. said...

Great to hear from you Estelle. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I may have to add that final Scripture to my list.

No word from Challies yet as to his next reading, unless it's Charity and Its Fruits, by Jonathan Edwards, I likely won't participate. Not because I'm stubborn, mind you, but because I'll be doing a study through that book with my ladies study at church and won't have time for any other reading while that's going on. I do plan, however, to do the same thing with Edwards' book as I did with the Rare Jewel, so those who are interested can participate in the reading via my blog. That should begin Oct. 5 - Lord willing.

Continue to pursue contentment. With it your godliness will bring great gain. As you say, it will be challenged for our entire lives. Satan will not rest if he sees us resting and will not be content to let us remain content. He hates this virtue and is out to destroy it.

Blessings from Northern California.
Laurie

Anonymous said...

From Estelle Lobban.

Thanks Laurie for the timely warning for us to resist Satan stealing and destroying the rare jewel of contentment.

Will look out for your new posts in less than a month's time on Charity and Its Fruits, by Jonathan Edwards. Gordon and I are going to be on holiday to Scotland, but will catch up with you (and your ladies!) on return - DV. Greetings and thanks! Estelle

barrywallace said...

These have been good posts, Laurie. Thanks for the cheat sheet. I'm printing it and sticking it in my Bible.