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What Matters Most to God in a Disciple? (Part 5)

. . . I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.” (Philippians 4:11b ESV).

 

If you just joined our journey of discovery into what matters most to God, we are taking a reflective walk through 1 Corinthians 13:4. The third quality that people see in followers who reflect Christlike love is the absence of envy.

 

The envy noted here is not a casual desire to match someone else’s house or professional status. It is a strong word expressing a hot jealousy about—and a craving to have—the advantages, perks, possessions, or success that someone else has. Not desirable in a disciple . . .

Stated in the positive, a person not consumed with envy is a person who is content. Think of contentment as “wanting what I have rather than having all I want.”

 

One of the best examples of Christlike contentment in the Bible is the apostle Paul. Although imprisoned and life-threatened, he does not express envy of other Christ-followers who enjoy freedom and comparative safety. Rather, he writes:

. . . 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”

(Philippians 4:11b­–13 ESV)

 

That final line explains how such a counter-cultural response to life’s situations is possible: God is with us. God works in us. God works through us. He is our Enabler. Without Him, we are unable to embrace this lifestyle.

 

Significantly however, Paul says he has learned to be content. Christlike contentment does not automatically appear in our lives simply because we trust Christ as our Redeemer. A disciple is, by definition, an active learner and practitioner—not a passive receptacle. If Paul needed to learn and cultivate Christlike contentment, it is no surprise that we need to learn and actively cultivate it, too.

 

Privately or with some friends, please ponder the relationship of contentment to these issues:

  • Trust: What does our envy of others say about our trust that God loves and leads us?
  • Comparisons: On whom are we focusing—and not focusing—when we succumb to envy?
  • Aspiration: How does Christlike contentment relate (or not relate) to our personal and professional aspirations?
  • Thankfulness: How does thankfulness affect contentment and envy?
  • Worship: How is contentment an act of worship?

 

Do you want to honor Him and do what matters most to Him? I do. Let’s take our eyes off others and fix our eyes on Jesus, the Pioneer and Perfecter of our faith. Let’s cultivate contentment.

 

This week.

 

Today.

 

© 2018 John C Garmo

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