In Part I of this series we concluded that doubt in God is one
of the key (and probably most frequent) reasons peace departs from
our mind. In Part II, we concluded that we go to the Lord for peace
through His word, through prayer, and by learning to be content.
How do Christians learn to be content and say: ". . . 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 Christ who strengthens
me" (Phil. 4:11-13). Paul, as apostle of Jesus Christ had to
learn this lesson - How do Christians live contently?
Like happiness and peace, contentment is a "state," not
a "place." To be content is to be satisfied. God has created
us with ambitions, but we must temper ambition so that we are satisfied
in every state of life. When we find ourselves dissatisfied, it
is often because we are too busy thinking about what we do not have
rather than thanking God for the material blessings we have received
from His hand.
Here is the Scriptural formula for contentment: "Rejoice always,
pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the
will of God in Christ for you" (1 Thess. 5:16-18). Are you
able to "always rejoice" while discontent? Probably not
- when we are discontent we are not joyous, we are sad and anxious
to obtain material "things," to satisfy desires of the
flesh. To live contently we must pray without ceasing, giving thanks
to God for everything. Now, imagine a person who is in constant,
prayerful communion with God - giving thanks all day and night for
material blessings. This person is so busy being thankful that he
does not have time to be discontent over material goods.
Later, Paul writes to the Philippians and states the formula for
contentment like this: "Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I
will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The
Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer
and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known
to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding,
will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Phil.
4:4-7). Besides joyful, thankful prayer, Paul says that we should
make all of our requests known to God. This means that we are to
share our desires with God in prayer - then we trust God to answer
our prayers in the best possible way - the answer may be no!
How do Christians live contently? Rejoice only in the Lord - not
lusts of the flesh; give thanks in unceasing prayer - count your
many blessings; make all our desires known to God - trust God to
answer our prayers in the best possible way. Thereby we have humbled
ourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt us in
due time, casting all our care upon Him, for He cares for us (1