It sneaks up right next to you. It becomes your unwanted partner, unknowingly. And you can’t see it coming. Discontentment is only recognizable when it’s activated. And the only time it’s activated is when you’re “awake” to it. It’s presence is murderous. It mutilates relationships, families and the simple gifts in life. Genesis 3:6-7 states, “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.” Discontentment set the future of the human race down an unintended path. A path that required a plan.
A savior. A love and peace like no other.
The more I live and the more I read the scriptures I am more and more convinced that contentment is the only door to God’s peace, the peace that he has for each one of us. There is no other perspective, no other way of living that allows to give us that gift the way he intends.
There was a man named Ananias. He was one of the disciples in Acts who sold his land to help those in need. Acts 4:32-35 says, “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.”
It’s in the next chapter we see the fruit of Ananias’ discontent. Acts 5:1-6 reads. “Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself (i.e., not content with what he had), but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet. Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.” When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. Then some young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him.”
There is a powerful lesson in that story. Begin discontent leads to death. Not necessarily physical death like Ananias’, but spiritual, mental and emotional death. When we allow our spirit to become discontent, we shut that “door” to God’s peace. We lock him out. I never understood this before, and am by no means always content, but I have had enough experiences to prove that regardless of what we have, what we don’t have, what is happening, what happened, or what may happen, the only way to live the life God has orchestrated for us is to be content with…whatever we have, little or much. Anything over and above breath is bonus. I love my wife and children more than I can describe, but I also know that if they were to vanish, I could be at peace because I get absolutely everything I need from him. True peace is not situational. Experiencing pain, discomfort, illness, loss or utter agony doesn’t block that peace. In fact, many times we need those things to awaken us enough so we can see our true need for that peace.
I have said many times through my life that I just can’t find peace. That things are just too hard. In Romans Paul talks about access to that peace. To that wholeness that Christ brough us so many years ago. Romans 8:35-39 explains, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:“For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered. ”No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
He tells us right there. That peace, that all-encompassing blanket can always be wrapped around us, always. It never has to leave, it never has to move, regardless of what s going on. But we are human. We know many things but unless we are actively thinking about them they are not in action in our lives. We need to practice the discipline of being “awake” each moment to Christ.
Philippians 4:4-9 tells us to, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
So how do we stay awake to that peace?
Paul tells us how in Philippians 4:11-13 “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
When we are content in Jesus, we quickly realize we have not a thing but him. And truly, that absence of everything but him reveals how he sustains us. All things tarnish, vanish or die. I think Paul really understood this. Many of Christ’s disciples didn’t, or at least they were not “awake” very often. Simple and easy are not the same thing. This truth is simple. Activating it takes practice, lots of practice, but it gets easier everyday. I have a picture in our home that says “Gratefulness makes what we have enough.” It’s a reminder every time I see it that I need to stay “awake”.
What I have, and what I hope you have or find soon is Jesus. In the words of Metallica “Nothing else matters.” Pure contentment in Christ is the only thing that provides us with anything of value and is the only way to the “peace that makes no sense” (Philippians 4:7).