One of the brothers from church that I miss is John McClellan Sr. Since he and I work at the church building together I often see him when I start work in the morning. Each time I ask, “How are you, John?” he sincerely answers, “Better than I deserve!”
John reminds me each time that it’s a blessing from God to be content.
Contentment is recognizing, through good times and bad, that God is dealing with us not according to what we deserve but according to His grace.
The Apostle Paul wrote about that in Philippians 4:11-13 about contentment and how we can regard whatever comes our way each day as “better than we deserve.”
Philippians 4:11–13 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. (ESV)
Getting to the Heart
The Apostle Paul wrote from prison, “Not that I am speaking of being in need.” Can you imagine being in prison and unjustly treated yet saying you don’t need anything! Sometimes it seems like Paul writes from the locker room of Major League Christianity while I am still playing on faith’s elementary playgrounds.
I’ve been challenged in this area of contentment, especially during this time of extended quarantine. Typically my lack of contentment is expressed in the opposite of Paul’s statement: “If I could only have ______ I’d be happier,” or “By now I should have ______ if it wasn’t for this virus!”
Can you relate?
Since I wrote about fear earlier this week, I’ve recognized that we experience fear in two key ways: fear of losing what we have and fear of getting what we don’t want. Both those fears are preoccupied with the future, living in the land of “What-ifs?” and losing out on the present blessings that dominate the Christian’s life thanks to the sustaining grace of God.
I will write more about practical ways to cultivate contentment tomorrow on Counsel for the Heart, but for today let me suggest a couple of reasons why our current circumstances are “better than we deserve.”
First, think of what you and I really do deserve. Honestly friends, it’s hell. Each day we wake up not in that fiery place of punishment and separation from God is a gift of grace. I have another friend who often prays, “Father, thank you for this unpromised day.” It’s true: this day was not promised to me, and I didn’t wake up this morning entitled to blessings and favor because of who I am. By myself, I’m only a sinner separated from God, and I deserve the punishment of hell. That’s one reason we are doing “better than we deserve” today.
Second, think of the Lord Jesus. He was not content to leave us in that lost and terrible state. He saw our true need and entered this world to save all those who put their hope in Him and see in Him their truest need. I know that’s how the imprisoned Paul could say, “not that I am speaking of being in need.” Paul focused his mind and heart on Jesus Christ. Actually, the whole point of Paul’s life was looking to Jesus for what He wanted of Paul that day and tackling that day’s challenge in the power of Jesus Christ.
Let’s talk it over:
- How would you complete the following statement? – “My life would be better right now if I had ___________.” Or “My life would be better right now if I didn’t have to deal with ___________.”
- In addition to the two reasons listed above to cultivate contentment, what other reasons can you think of to help you be content and “not speak of being in need”?
Almighty Father, all around and within us are enticements to want more and to be dissatisfied with our current situation in life. Forgive us, Lord. You have redeemed us to be about Your business in this life in this today of either abounding or being brought low. Strengthen us to live with great contentment in Your grace, to remember we’ve been delivered from Hell, and to rejoice this day in Your Son! Help us Lord, and thank You. Amen.
Worship in Song:
The link above is unique today. Clicking it will take you to a Nashville News source with a video featuring Nashvillian singers singing “It is Well With My Soul” as a choir… over their cell phones. It’s a witness to the praise that can still offered to the Lord when we can’t be where we want or even have the worship we need. It is still well with our souls.
Memory Passage for this Week:
____________ 13:5–6 ____ your ___ _____ from ____ of ______, and be ______ with what you _____, for he has said, “I will _____ _____ you nor ______ you.”  So we can ________ say,
“The ______ is my _______;
I will not _______;
what can ____ do to me?” (ESV)