InPursuit

Discipline of Contentment {Book Club Thursdays}

Welcome!

We’re jumping into Barbara Hughes’, Disciplines of a Godly Woman (affil. link).
For your convenience, all the posts in the series will be archived here. Or, to make life even easier, subscribe to our Book Club Thursdays newsletter and receive all book club posts directly to your email. 

You will also receive a link to our private FB group where we can chat through some of the concepts in this book and a free PDF downloadable Study Sheet

I hope you’re ready for the ride, because it’s going to be filled with encouragement, insight, and God-inspired wisdom.

Chapter 7: Discipline of Contentment, Submission’s Rest

We live in a world that offers us “more”. More stuff, more options, more entertainment, more food, more ways to amuse ourselves. More. Marketers perpetuate our perceived lack by bringing in the next “best” thing. We drool, we’re enticed, we must have it. And most often we do what it takes to make it happen. The problem? Before we even get it home, before we even get a good taste of it, the “next best” thing is advertised. The perpetual cycle continues.

Social media doesn’t help our situation. We get glimpses at other people’s lives and we’re reminded of what we don’t have. Over and over again. One Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest post at a time. We’re saturated with materialism. Our senses are viciously attacked from the moment we get up.

What’s God’s girl to do? How do we make contentment a way of life when we live in a world that rages at us, “You don’t have enough! You need more!”

What Is Contentment?

In the classic The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, first published in 1648, Jeremiah Burroughs defines contentment this way: “Christian contentment is that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God’s wise and fatherly disposal in every condition,” (p. 78).

In 2 Peter 1:3 we learn that, “His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness.” So many times we jump over the words and keep moving without understanding the significance of this truth. God, through His divine power, has given each of us every single thing that we need both for life and to walk in godliness. What else is there, then? Why do we pursue elsewhere what God has already declared is available to us? Why do we seek happiness, joy, and fulfillment in other things when ALL that we need for life and godliness is at our disposal.

Perhaps, it’s because we don’t trust that God means what He says.

Perhaps, it’s because we don’t believe it could be so simple…fulfillment and satisfaction already ours?

Perhaps, it’s because we’ve read about it, but we don’t know how to walk in this God-confidence.

Perhaps, it’s because we’re not sure how to submit to God’s truth rather than chase the illusive promises of this world.

Whatever it is, we miss out when we seek to pursue the good life out of our wisdom and vantage point. We miss what God, in His goodness and wisdom, designed and prepared for us.

Contentment is the steadying peace that comes from knowing that God is the one who holds our inheritance. He’s the One who enlarges our borders as He sees fit. Contentment says, I trust you, God. I’m thankful for what You’ve given me because every good gift comes from You. But I also trust you with what you withhold, because you know me better than I know myself. In all things, I WILL praise you!

I believe that’s why Paul shares with Timothy that “godliness with contentment is great gain,” (1 Timothy 6:6). Because when we find contentment in Christ, we’re no longer led astray by the false promises of this world. We no longer chase empty dreams and pursuits. We have Jesus. We trust God. And the Holy Spirit fills us to overflowing. We have everything we need.

This doesn’t mean we don’t grow, mature, continue to learn, and choose to better ourselves. No. Rather, it means we live, not out of a sense of rush, hurry, and hustle to climb ladders, but out of a freedom and motivation to abide in Christ and declare His testimonies.

 

Longings

So, what about longings? What do we do with them? Because we all feel it, the reality that this is not our home, and yet a dimness of that understanding.

Barbara shares a story about a woman who grew up in church and yet, “from deep within a longing to be free of restrictions overwhelmed her soul. She went through a long period of experimentation and increasing frustration. Searching for rest from her inner struggle, she read 2 Peter 2:20-22: “For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: “A dog returns to his own vomit,” and, “a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.”

Can you relate? You know Jesus is best. You know the Christian slogans. You’ve done the Christian-good-girl studies. Yet, you want more. It just doesn’t feel like enough. Oh, how I’ve been there. It’s important to get to the root of our longings. What is it that we’re looking for? What is it that we really want and desire? Does any of it point back to Jesus? Or does it lead us to our own selfish agenda and desires?

So many times, I’ve walked back my longings as far as I could and at the end of the rope what I found was “me”. Over the years, I’ve learned (over and over) that if I walk them back and it doesn’t take me to God, then I’m off. I’m missing something. In prayer and through reading of Scripture, I ask God to show me the things within me that I do not ‘see’ or understand. And He’s so faithful. He does. He always takes me back to the root of that longing…whether it’s an unhealthy desire or one that He’s given me and wants to use.

Content With Plenty Or In Need

Contentment is a funny thing. You think you’re good, until…you’re not.

Life sometimes hits in such unexpected ways. Small things. Life-changing, sometimes traumatic things. We don’t have a chance to prepare, and the truth of what’s inside of us spills out. For us, it’s been over 7 layoffs in almost 12 years of marriage, hospitalizations, a house fire, family and church issues, and so much more. What spilled out of me the first couple of years was certainly not anything I’m proud of. But, you learn. You grow. You begin to shed the sin the entangles you. You learn to see the snares and traps set out for you. You learn to believe God for His promises. You grow and mature in faith. And your contentment muscles, thanks to “humility’s” great work ;), begin to get stronger. You realize you can live with much, but you can also live with need. Because as my pastor once said, Jesus + nothing = everything!

It’s what Paul said in Philippians 4:11-13, Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Chris who strengthens me.”

“The more one has, the more one wants–nothing satisfies. So whether you are rich or poor, developing the discipline of contentment demands that we submit both our anxiety and our greed to the Lord.”

The Source of Contentment

If we’re going to find true contentment, we’re going to have to understand our design. The only way to do that is through Scripture. That’s where we learn about God’s goodness, His provision, His divine favor and blessing over our lives, and His sovereignty. We learn about His power, His love, His care, His protection. We get a good look at His character. We see Him in action. We learn His ways.

Barbara encourages us to 1.) Listen to God’s word 2.) Study God’s Word, and 3.) Apply God’s word.

Discontentment comes because we do not know what God has said and promised. As we listen, study, and apply God’s word, His truth becomes our guide. It sears through the lies, deception, and manipulation of the enemy, and we’re able to see our situation through biblical lens. And that right there is where the discipline of contentment brings true rest!

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The Discipline of the Contentment  helps us to open our eyes to the goodness and grace of God right in front of us. It helps us to stop striving and comparing. It reinforces the faith we have that God is good and regardless of what it looks like, He is good over our lives.

I encourage you to go through the Scriptures shared here (and in this chapter). Let God work in you that your eyes would be open to the abundance available to you. Because if you have Jesus, then you have absolutely everything you need! Then meet me here next week when we’ll talk about the Discipline of Propriety.

{Thoughts to Ponder}

Q1: Is there an area that brings deep discontentment in your life? Trace it back. What do you find?

Q2: Why must godly contentment be independent of circumstances and conditions?

Q3: What characterizes godly discontent? What longings are godly ones? See Psalm 42:1; 61:4; 119:18-20

**Some discussion questions taken from Disciplines of a Godly Woman by Barbara Hughes. All quotes by Barbara Hughes unless otherwise noted. 

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© 2016 Darlene Collazo | {In Pursuit} My Quest

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