Philip Parham tells the story of a rich industrialist who was disturbed to find a fisherman sitting lazily beside his boat. “Why aren’t you out there fishing?” he asked.
“Because I’ve caught enough fish for today,” said the fisherman.
“Why don’t you catch more fish than you need?’ the rich man asked.
“What would I do with them?”
“You could earn more money,” came the impatient reply, “and buy a better boat so you could go deeper and catch more fish. You could purchase nylon nets, catch even more fish, and make more money. Soon you’d have a fleet of boats and be rich like me.”
The fisherman asked, “Then what would I do?”
“You could sit down and enjoy life,” said the industrialist.
“What do you think I’m doing now?” the fisherman replied as he looked placidly out to sea.
Being content with our present situation isn’t always easy. It is too tempting to look across “the street” and say “hey, wouldn’t it be nice if I could have a life just like_______?”
At other times we look at our circumstance (whatever it may be) and wish that our circumstance could be better. Now there is nothing wrong with improving one’s present situation but it is quite another to allow it to consumes us, that it paralyzes us and keeps us from making the best of a present situation or even the best of life.
Contentment is choosing to be happy with things as they are. It is freedom from the folly and frustration of unsatisfied desire. Contentment comes, not because the circumstances of our lives are “ideal,” but because they are as God, in His love and wisdom, allows them to be at the moment (Philippians 4:11).)
In order to be truly content we have to come to the point in our lives where we surrender our will and our circumstance to God allowing His sovereignty to have full sway in our lives. How do we do this? Let me share with you five principles that I have learned and that have worked for myself and others.
First of all we must, establish a reasonable standard of living. Since there is no universal plan that is suitable for everyone, this must be a standard established among yourself or if you are married and have a family, a husband, wife, and God. It is good to sit down analyze what you have coming in financially, the possessions you have, what you would like to have in the future etc., and determine how you will live in relationship to these things.
Secondly, you must establish a habit of giving. Christians need to be involved with the blessing of doing what they can to meet the needs of others. Being a giver i.e. having a generous spirit helps keeps the mind off of ourselves and onto the needs of others. Doing so, relieves us of being self focused and may I add self centered. Every individual and Christian family should be directly involved with some project that focuses on the needs of others or another family. There are many Christian organizations that act as a funnel for such assistance be it just plain time or monetary support. If you can’t be personally involved, this is the best alternative. “At this present time your abundance being a supply for their want, that their abundance also may become a supply for your want, that there may be equality; as it is written, ‘He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little had no lack’ ” (2 Corinthians 8:14-15).
Thirdly we must establish priorities. Many people are discontented, not because they aren’t doing well but because others are doing better. “Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you’ “ (Hebrews 13:5). Too often we let the urgent things take priority over the important things. We must always remember that God has promised to be with us. He stands by our side waiting to be our provider. Let us allow Him to be just that, and accept that which He provides.
Next, we need to develop a thankful attitude. Thankfulness is a state of mind, not an accumulation of assets. Until we can truly thank God for what we have and be willing to accept that as God’s provision for our lives, contentment never will be possible. An Attitude of gratitude is one which recognizes that although things could be better things also could be so much worse.
Two men were walking through a field one day when they spotted an enraged bull. Instantly they darted toward the nearest fence. The storming bull followed in hot pursuit, and it was soon apparent they wouldn’t make it.
Terrified, the one shouted to the other, “Put up a prayer, John. We’re in for it!”
John answered, “I can’t. I’ve never made a public prayer in my life.”
“But you must!” implored his companion. “The bull is catching up to us.”
“All right,” panted John, “I’ll say the only prayer I know, the one my father used to repeat at the table: ‘O Lord, for what we are about to receive, make us truly thankful.'”
Let us learn to be truly thankful to receive what God has specially designed for us. He always knows best.
Lastly, we should reject a fearful spirit. Dedicated Christians get trapped into hoarding because they fear the “What if?” of retirement, disability, unemployment, or economic collapse. Obviously, God wants us to consider these things and even plan for them, within reason. When fear dictates to the point that we live in constant worry or giving to God’s work is hindered, living life foolish risks are assumed and worry becomes the norm rather than the exception. A Christian must consciously reject this attitude of fear. “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).
Psalm 68: 19 says, “Blessed be the Lord, who daily loads us with benefits, even the God of our salvation.” Each day if we take a moment to slow down and look at our lives through the lens of God’s grace, we will come to see our blessings, count them one by one, and truly realize that the God of our salvation has loaded us with many things we can be thankful for. It is then that we can experience the beauty of being content.
David Guerrero is the co-founder and speaker/director of Rekindle the Flame Ministries. RTFM is a non profit 501(c)3 Christian organization that seeks to aid the body of Christ in experiencing transformation of life through faith-based counseling, life coaching, seminars, conferences, training, and newsletters. Please contact us at (715) 310-2196 or on the web at www.rekindletheflameministries.org for more information on how we can help you your church or your organization. Also please do contact us if you like to be on our mailing list.