Reflections and Snippets

Spiritual Contentment?

A brother wrote and asked about how to find a church, and my tangential answer was to consider carnal versus spiritual contentment.

We have our discontent all wrong, it seems to me.

We are discontent about material things. If I only had more hair, or money, or a nicer car, or better job. Not that we always say these things, but we feel them deeply; and in many cases we do not think it a sin to speak this way even among the brethren. While this is "natural", it is not something encouraged by God.

Luke 3:14 (KJV) "... Be content with your wages."

Heb 13:5 (NRS) "... Be content with what you have."

1 Tim 6:6,8 (NIV) But godliness with contentment is great gain... But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.

There is no doubt that we should bring our real needs to God in prayer. But how much of our discontentment has to do with real needs?

On the other hand, we tend to be spiritually complacent and think we have "made it" at any and every stage of spiritual maturation, and many churches actually encourage this.

Here is a litmus test: In prayer meetings, what are we asking for? For more of God... or for more of the ephemeral stuff of the here and now?

While this materialism is natural enough, and to be expected, I suspect that God wants to goad us to a certain spiritual discontent and passion for more of what is eternal.

1 Cor 12:31 (GLT) But zealously strive after the better gifts.

Isa 55:6 (GLT) Seek Jehovah while He may be found; call on Him while He is near.

Mat 5:6 (GLT) "Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness! For they shall be filled."

Ps 84:2 (GLT) My soul longs and even faints for the courts of Jehovah; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.

Ps 63:1 (NRS) God... I seek you, my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

Ps 42:1 (GLT) As the deer pants after the channels of water, so my soul pants after You, O God.

Anyone speaking like David in today's Christian culture would likely be pulled aside and harangued for being "negative" and given a book on being spiritually content where he was.

And yet I think we have it exactly backwards. We should be content with the paltry and ephemeral material things we have, and thankful to God for them. We should hunger and thirst and seek and zealously strive in every way for more of God and his grace, even if few will encourage us in this direction outside of the holy saints of old.

In short, my advice would be to look for a group--or start one in your home--with such a purpose: to seek God and find him. Not to be content with mere talk about him, but to be motivated to have him in truth. Look for those who have "tasted and seen that He is good", and who are ruined for anything else.

Short of this, go to the church you must, but never give in to the tendency to lower God's standard of holiness. Never sell out to the half-way or the watered down. Hold out for the real and permanent, even if you are not there yet. For if you hold on to your hope, you will not be disappointed if your hope is in God.

Rom 8:24 (NIV) For... who hopes for what he already has?

Gal 5:5 (NIV) But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope.

Let the Holy Spirit help you cultivate a heart content in the physical (unnatural as this is) and that has permission to pine for God in the spiritual (unnatural as this is) till it is fully satisfied.

Eph 1:16-20 (Phi) ... This is my prayer: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the all-glorious Father, will give to you spiritual wisdom and the insight to know more of him: that you may receive that inner illumination of the spirit which will make you realize how great is the hope to which he is calling you--the magnificence and splendor of the inheritance promised to Christians--and how tremendous is the power available to us who believe in God. That power is the same divine energy which was demonstrated in Christ when he raised him from the dead...

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