Finding That God is More Than Enough
In Matthew chapter 6 verses 19-24, Jesus spoke about the futility of looking to wealth as our source of happiness and hope for our future well-being. He then in verses 25-34 spoke about the futility of being anxious over a perceived lack of the necessities of life and fretting about that lack. Underlying each case is the conviction that God is not enough for our happiness; that God is not enough to meet our needs; that God is not enough for us to have joy and peace.
I think the Apostle Paul may have been reflecting on this part of Jesus’ sermon on the mount when he was instructing Timothy about false teachers. In 1 Timothy 6:3-6, Paul writes:
If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment
False teachers even then were preaching a health and wealth gospel that used religious acts as a means of accumulating wealth and satisfying their carnal desires. They were saying that if you practice their form of godliness you will be rewarded with great gain. You will be healthy, wealthy, and wise. They were teaching that if you are wealthy, it demonstrates to all around you that God is pleased with you. Paul tells Timothy not to think that way, to withdraw from such teachers, that they are not agreeing with the sound words of Jesus and they are teaching a different doctrine than what Paul has taught. Paul tells Timothy instead that godliness can be great gain, but only with contentment. If you have a godliness that produces contentment in your life, that is great gain. True wealth in God’s great scheme of things is not tied to material blessing. True wealth is godliness that is mature enough to produce contentment.
Puritan Thomas Watson wrote, in The Art of Divine Contentment, “The doctrine of contentment is very superlative [or of supreme importance], and till we have learned this, we have not learned to be Christian.”
What is Watson saying when he says that until we learn contentment, we have not learned to be Christian? The fruit of the Spirit is a hallmark of what it means to be Christian. Every Christian should be growing in the demonstration of the fruit of the Spirit. I think what Watson is suggesting is that the fruit of the Spirit can only be fully displayed if it is displayed alongside Christian contentment. Christian contentment is full confidence and trust in the sufficiency of Christ.
In addition to contentment, humility must be present. Humility is the root of all of the fruit of the Spirit. If you take the fruit of the Spirit and distill each one down to its very core, you will find that the core is rooted in humility. You cannot really love as God loves without humility – because some people are hard to love, and it is hard to love in some circumstances. In some cases, you have to override pride to be able to truly love. The same is true with goodness, gentleness, meekness - each of the fruit of the Spirit. There are times when the fruit cannot be displayed to the glory of God without humility being a part of the equation. While humility is the root of all the fruit, contentment in who God is and what He does is the aroma of that fruit as it matures. Paul calls it a fragrant offering.
This contentment is illustrated in the life of Paul in, among other places, chapter 4 of his letter to the Philippian church. In context, Paul was in prison. He could not leave. Part of the time he had a Roman guard chained to his side. His friend and pastor of the Philippian church, Epaphroditus, had brought Paul a care package from the church, but Epaphroditus had gotten deathly sick while he was there. Paul was very concerned about Epaphroditis’ health. Circumstances were not cheery. However, Paul writes in Philippians 4:10-17.
I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. 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. Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit.
Paul told them that he was content in God’s provision for him, whether that be in much or in little. He commended the Philippians for their care and support for him and he was grateful for their gifts, but He did not seek their gifts to be content. His desire was for their fruit-bearing through their gifts. He continued, in verses 18-20,
I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.
Paul knew that many in the church had given sacrificially out of their poverty. They gave anyway. He assured them that their offerings were a sweet-smelling savor to God and assured them that, as they had provided for his need, God would provide their need through His riches in Christ Jesus. Perhaps not in this life, but in the life to come.
So, what is this Christian contentment that Thomas Watson wrote about? He continued, “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.” Paraphrasing, it means, “I’m satisfied with things as they are because God is more than enough for me.”
That is the confident belief that God is all that He says He is and can do all that He says He can do. He will always be who He is, and that is all that I need to be content. God knows all of my needs. He has already supplied my greatest need through the work of Christ on Calvary.
Christian contentment is not passive resignation. It is not resigning yourself to not getting what you want or what you think you deserve. It is not saying, “I can’t get what I want so I may as well be content with that reality.” An unbeliever can have that kind of response. Christian contentment is saying, “Although I think I really need this, I can let this rest because God knows what is best for me and I can trust Him. He is more than enough for my soul’s satisfaction.” I do not need my circumstance to change for me to have joy and for me to rest in God’s peace in the circumstances. As Paul said, “I know how to abound and I know how to be abased, because Christ will strengthen me.” You do not have to talk yourself into this frame of mind by human logic; you submit yourself into it by affirming God’s truth.
Again, Thomas Watson said, “He is not a contented man who is so upon an occasion, and perhaps so when he is pleased; but who is so constantly, when it is the habit and complexion of his soul. Contentment does not only appear now and then, as some stars which are seen but seldom, it is a settled temper of the heart.”
The writer of Hebrews, in chapter 13 verse 5 ties this back together with Matthew 6. It reads, “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."
The love of money, covetousness, is the enemy of contentment. As Jesus taught, You cannot serve God and money. Covetousness says, “Who God is does not satisfy me. What God has supplied does not satisfy me. I must have something else.”
Psalm 23:1 says, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”
Discontentment is rooted in the belief that God has not done enough for me. God Himself is not enough for me. I need something more. But Hebrews 13:5 says that we can be content with what we have because God is with us and He will never forsake us. He, who is the all-sufficient one. He, who owns the cattle on a thousand hills. He, who can turn the hearts of potentates as He wills. It is that He who is with us and will never forsake us. We can trust Him to do what is best for us, even if it is not what we would want in our present circumstances. He is more than enough to satisfy our soul. We can rest in Him.
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