Welcome back to the A Believer’s Character series, an alphabetical excursion through a list of important Biblical character traits for children. I’m teaming up with Joyice of Raising Boys Homeschool for this great project. This week Joyice and I are exploring character traits that begin with the letter C. I’m sharing a feminine perspective with C is for content. Joyice will be sharing a masculine perspective on C is for Courageous. I encourage you to visit Joyice and read her post as I’m certain you’ll be encouraged by what you read!
A few Saturdays ago, the weather was absolutely fabulous. God called together a beautiful blue sky, radiant sun, gentle breeze, mild temperature and presented us with a picture perfect day. Our family took advantage of that day by lighting up the charcoal grill, playing games on the freshly moved lawn, and enjoying a delicious dinner on the deck.
When it was finally time to prepare for bedtime, I called the girlies into the house. Two of the girlies began to complain about having to come inside, but one girl filed past me with a huge smile on her face. As she headed upstairs, I asked her why she smiling so much. “Mommy,” she said, “this day was the best. I’m just happy with today.” Two of the girlies complained, but one girl was content.
What is contentment and why is it important? The word contentment has several definitions. A basic definition is a state of satisfaction and peace of mind. An even more interesting definition describes contentment as an internal satisfaction which does not demand changes in external circumstances. However, my favorite definition of contentment and the I find most accurate is the attitude of accepting whatever God provides and being satisfied with it.
Contentment is an important aspect of Christian character because it keeps us rooted in, focused upon, centered around, and riveted by Christ Jesus. When we are truly content, we recognize that Christ is all and that He is all we need. Contentment keeps us focused on the Provider and not the provision. The contented Christian never worries that another’s grass may be greener than her own. The contented Christian is so busy watering her own grass that she has no time or desire to stare enviously over the fence at another’s lawn. Happiness is a fruit the tree of contentment bears.
Does the Bible say anything about contentment? The apostle Paul experienced great hardship as he worked to spread the Gospel: beatings, lack of food and shelter, shipwreck, and imprisonment. In spite of such suffering, Paul was able to write a letter of encouragement to the church at Philippi.
I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 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. (Philippians 4:10-12)
Horrible things happened to Paul, yet he was content. Amazing? Yes! Easy? No! How did Paul learn how to be content?
Paul’s words seem to indicate that contentment does not come naturally. In fact he tells us that he has “learned to be content”. If I want my daughters to be content, then I must teach them how to be content.
How can my daughters learn to be content?
At my house, the course in contentment requires five important lessons:
- Model your life after the life of Jesus Christ. Christ was a humble man who had very few things and yet, he was content. Throughout his 33 years on Earth, Christ only sought to please the Father. Christ had minimal material possessions but had eternal Godly wealth. My girls must follow Christ’s example so that they’ll recognize that following Christ and doing His will is what will make them content.
- Know the difference between wants and needs. Discontentment often surfaces because wants become just as important as needs. Needs include food, clothing, shelter, but not always prime rib, a designer wardrobe, and a mansion. My girlies must recognize that they can find contentment in knowing that God knows exactly what they need and understanding that His provision is always enough.
- Fight instant gratification. Instant gratification says I have to have this now. A content Christian embraces God’s timetable and waits to see what He provides. The girlies must recognize that God gives them exactly what they need at exactly the right time.
- Value what you already have. The girlies can quickly become discontent if they’re focused on what they don’t have instead of thanking God for what He has already supplied. In order to be content, the girlies must love the life and possessions God has currently provided for them.
- Be a giver. When the girlies are taught to give to others, their focus shifts from self to service. They learn to that in giving more to others, they can be content with less. The girlies must recognize that content Christians are giving Christians.
Prayer for Contentment
Dear Lord, thank you for Jesus, Your dear Son. Thank you for the wonderful life of contentment He displayed during his 33 Earthly years. Thank you for being a loving Father who has our best interests in mind at all times. Thank you for the Bible that we can use to learn more about you and the contented life you lived. Help us to see that contentment is not an unreachable goal. Help us to understand that contentment can be achieved by changing our hearts’ attitude and focusing on You. Help us to be content with everything You have provided, knowing that You know what is best. Help us not to run down never-ending trails in pursuit of things, but to run straight to You, the One who loves us most. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
© 2014, Andrea Thorpe. All rights reserved.