Valentine’s Day is this week so it is appropriate that we should take a look at the heart. People I encounter daily are discontented with something so if you are discontent today you are not alone! The worship and passionate pursuit of Christ has become a worship and desperate search for material things. The hearts of many Believers have become focused on acquiring all kinds of stuff! Sadly enough, those hearts are quickly discontented even when they get all the stuff they desire.
Why is it that we are not content people? Why do our hearts continue to long after things that are so meaningless? I think it is because many of us have hard lives. I was listening to a sermon by John MacArthur one day, and he said that most Christians are poor, and that is by God’s design. Jesus said that we will have many troubles in this world, and our lives bear that out, don’t they?
How do we become or remain content at heart in a world that is calling us to have more, do more, and be more every waking minute? And in a world that tells us that what we have and who we are is somehow inferior?
How can we have contented hearts? It is a question I ask myself all the time and I have made a study of it as I meet with women each week who ask me the same question.
In 1 Tim 6:6 Paul said, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” It is God’s desire that we are content in the place and position He has placed us in. In Phil 4:11 Paul says, “I have learned to be content…” Have you learned the secret of a contented heart yet? I meditate on this constantly.
My heart contains my thoughts, emotions, desires, will, mind, soul, feelings, beliefs…the essence of what makes me “me” – and it also contains the Holy Spirit of the Living God. The heart is the place which we become discontent with life. The heart is the seat of our grumblings and complaining. It is the heart that must learn to be content.
Let me draw you a word picture: Imagine your own heart and picture it is filled with “self.” Next to your heart picture a box with an arrow coming from your heart to that box. The box would contain the thoughts, beliefs, and desires of your heart as it is filled with self.
What would your heart contain? Would there be thoughts like I want…. someone should give me…. if only he would…. Why can’t I have, be, go… I should have…. If I would not have…. Why does she….and not me….
Next to that box, picture another box with another arrow from the first box to this one. In this box would be all the results or behaviors of thinking those kinds of thoughts- anger, frustration, irritation, sorrow, self-pity, greed, idolatry, covetousness, jealousy… discontent.
We may have all been there at some time, and maybe you are right now. It seems tax time brings out the discontentment that lurks in our hearts. The media – television and newspapers exist to tell you that what you have is not good enough so we want more.
The apostle Paul said this:
“Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.”Philippians 4:11-12
You are perhaps very familiar with this passage of Scripture and its context. Paul was in prison while he penned these words to the church at Philippi. He was nearing the end of his life and had experienced many horrible things at the hands of both Jews and Gentiles.
Paul says in 2 Cor. 11:23-28 he has been:
“in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.”
And yet he says he has learned how to be content.
Something really struck me about verse 12: “in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.”
The Strongs version says this: “Everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” Can you say that today?