This last post is somewhat of a practical one; my intent is to give you some concrete, tangible ways by which to live in the season you’re in. Lots and lots of you may have no problem with discontentment or dissatisfaction, but maybe there’s someone who just needs a little encouragement to settle in and enjoy where your life is today – not yesterday or tomorrow. Plus, I’ll probably need to come back to this myself someday. Just because I can dish out advice doesn’t mean I’m immune to needing it myself!
The first thing we need to realize is how much God dislikes complaining. The Israelites got into trouble for this so many times! The word used in the Bible most often for complaining is “murmuring.” Maybe the most famous verse containing this word is Philippians 2:14 – “Let all things be done without murmurings and disputings.” In Exodus 16, we see the point where the Lord gave them what they desired, but sent leanness into their soul (Psalm 106:14,15), after all their murmuring. In I Corinthians 10: 10, 11, we see that God used the Israelites as an example and for our admonition, so that we might not do the same things that they did:
Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.
Every example of murmuring that we find in the Bible was met with some form of judgement. I think God takes it pretty seriously when we complain, especially when we complain about things He has so richly blessed us with. It shows an ungrateful heart when we complain and fail to give thanks for God’s blessings.
So if it displeases God for us to complain, then it makes sense that it pleases him when we are content. For many of us, contentment is a character trait that must be learned. Philippians is just an excellent book for teaching us to rejoice, and I found much in this book about contentment, joy, and rejoicing. Chapter 4 contains Paul’s famous statement:
“. . . for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” Philippians 4:11
He goes on to say that he has learned to abound and to suffer need; in other words, he has learned to be content when things are going well and when things are not going so well. We have to learn to be content when everything’s going our way, and when it’s not.
So how do you learn to be content in your season of life? Change your mind! The Bible teaches us that we can be “transformed through the renewing of your mind . . .” (Romans 12:2) and to bring “into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” (II Corinthians 10:5). When that complaining thought enters your mind, cast it out and bring it into obedience to Christ. What does His Word say?
Rejoice in the Lord alway; and again I say, Rejoice. Philippians 4:4
Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee. Hebrews 13:5
But godliness with contentment is great gain. I Timothy 6:6
And having food and raiment, let us therewith be content. I Timothy 6:8
When you begin putting the Truth into your mind, your mind begins to be cleansed of Satan’s lies. Find verses that help you to be content or help you to rejoice – whatever your need is – write them down and memorize them. Begin changing your mind by renewing it with God’s Word.
Lastly, live in the present; enjoy your life! I’ve heard people say that God isn’t concerned with our happiness; He is only concerned that we obey Him. I would agree with that to a point. Here’s where my thoughts are on that, and I’ve checked these out with my husband to make sure I’m on the right track. God is definitely concerned that we obey Him. There’s no doubt about that. But He also has promised to bless those who obey Him with joy (Psalm 5:11; John 15:11; Romans 15:13; Galatians 5:22), peace (Philippians 4:7), and abundant life (John 10:10 – and I’m not talking prosperity Gospel – there’s more to “abundance” than money). So I believe that, if we are serving God out of a pure heart, living in His will, that He will bless us with joy and peace. I should be able to live an abundant, joy-filled, peaceful life anywhere in the world, in any situation, with God's help. I don’t buy the idea that God is a stern Father whose only satisfaction comes from making His children miserable! He delights in His children. He loves with an everlasting love. He does discipline, which is unpleasant, but even that discipline proves His love.
With that said, there are several passages I’ve come across that indicate that we can enjoy God’s blessings freely.
Behold [that] which I have seen: [it is] good and comely [for one] to eat and to drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labour that he taketh under the sun all the days of his life, which God giveth him: for it [is] his portion. Every man also to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labour; this [is] the gift of God. Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God now accepteth thy works. Let thy garments always be white; and let thy head lack no ointment. Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that [is] thy portion in [this] life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun. Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do [it] with thy might; for [there is] no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest. Ecclesiastes 9:7-10
And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, [do] all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. And whatsoever ye do, do [it] heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. Colossians 3:17,23,24
Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; I Timothy 6:17
I’m firmly convinced that God intends for us to enjoy the blessings He’s given us, and to enjoy them freely. But it’s our choice. He gives us the command to rejoice, to live our lives heartily, and we can choose to do that . . . or we can choose to be miserable and unhappy with our lives. What’s your choice?