The Gift of Contentment

I believe one of the greatest gifts we can give our children is the gift of being a contented mother and wife. Contentment can be an area we struggle with as Christian women. This is evident in the e-mails I receive from moms, and I recognize it in my life. While we should be the most contented women on the face of the earth, we may live our lives dissatisfied and striving for something different. Here is a request that was recently sent in as a Mom’s Corner topic. First the mom shared a specific situation with me, which isn’t included here, and then she moved on to her question.

Is my dissatisfaction evidence of God leading us to further changes or just my own flesh lacking contentment? I also don’t want to throw my family into upheaval when it’s just me struggling with the transition of homeschooling. It is my personal tendency to look for greener grass on the other side of the fence. When is it appropriate to press God for change, and when is it best to put your head down and press faithfully on with what you’ve already been given?

My husband and I continue to discuss it at length. We are not at odds. I am not nagging him. We just continue to discuss topics as they come up, remaining open to the other’s heart on this subject.

A Questioning Mom

Scripture has some specific verses for us when we begin to think about contentment. Let’s start with them as a basis for our discussion.

“Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:11-13).

“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content” (1 Timothy 6:6-8).

Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5).

When I am asking myself the questions this mom is asking—is my dissatisfaction an indication of God’s leading or my own flesh lacking contentment?—I usually become aware that the answers involve my selfish heart. I am not choosing obedience to what the Lord Jesus has told me in these verses that have to do with contentment. Being dissatisfied is a symptom of that disobedience. If I am not being obedient, would He use my disobedience as a vehicle to prompt change? I don’t believe He will. Instead, I am to learn to be content, to rest in the Lord Jesus and where He has me at the moment. Then if there is to be change, He will orchestrate it.

My first goal is to repent of the lack of contentment. Paul said in Philippians 4:11 that he learned contentment. It wasn’t a state of mind that came naturally for him. It was a process that involved times of both hardship and bounty. Contentment with plenty was obviously not as difficult as contentment with hunger or need, but he said he had to learn it in both states. With God’s strength Paul chose to take his thoughts captive (2 Corinthians 10:5) and be content. That is exactly what I need to do as well.

My experience has been that God brings change as a result of my contentment, not my discontentment. For example, for the past two years we have had no place to practice our family music except our living room. This means we always have instruments out in the living room. For a month or so before a trip, we also have our sound equipment out for practice sessions. The open area of our living room becomes filled with microphone stands and cables snaking everywhere. While I don’t prefer the instruments and sound equipment to be out, I have been content with it. Last year, it became evident that our Titus2 ministry had outgrown our present home. We are now building another house that will accommodate the book storage needs, and it will also allow us an upstairs room where we can practice our music.

Discontentment seems to breed murmuring and complaining—a negative attitude toward the problem or situation. However, Scripture tells us to “Do all things without murmurings and disputings” (Philippians 2:14). Whatever we are discontent about becomes our focus and the topic of our regular complaints. Therefore, it also easily leads us to being a contentious woman—certainly a bad example for our children: “A continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike” (Proverbs 27:15).

Sometimes there is a problem or need in our school or with the children. As I pray about it and take it to Steve, it isn’t discontentment on my part that brings the solution. Rather, it is my accepting the situation and waiting on the Lord for His direction if there is to be a change of any kind. If I am not content and willing to wait on the Lord and my husband, then I become that contentious woman—nagging—a continual dripping to him.

I want my children to be content. Not only do I want them to be content, but I want them to be grateful as well. That begins in my heart and with my attitude. I can’t expect from them what I don’t have victory over in my own life. They will be aware of my discontent because they will hear my murmuring words and sense my negative heart.

Contentment is not complacency. If my house is a mess, I am not to be complacent by choosing not to clean it while saying I am content with the state of my house. However, if I am sick and can’t clean the house as I normally would, then I need to be content to wait on the work until I am well.

I would encourage the mom who wrote to me to work on learning to be content in the area in which she is dissatisfied. Then as she rests in the Lord, she will observe what He will do with the situation. Perhaps He will leave it as it is. Perhaps He will change it the way she is wanting it to be. “Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass” (Psalms 37:4-5). Perhaps it will take a turn she couldn’t even envision at this point. It all starts with a focus on the questions: What is my delight? Is it in me and what I want, or is it in my Lord Jesus? May I encourage each of us to be known as women of contentment.

Protecting Against Deception – Part 1

I remember once speaking with a man who had owned a liquor store while professing to be a Christian. I asked him whether selling alcohol, which ruined lives, and being a “Christian” seemed to be a conflict. He insisted that there was no conflict because it was a great opportunity to witness to people.

Have you noticed how easy it is to deceive yourself? I must admit, it is true in my life as well. I have shared in previous Dad’s Corners some examples of times I have deceived myself. The consequences for being deceived can range from minor to terrible.

Perhaps the greatest and most disastrous deception is a man believing he is saved when in fact he is headed for hell. He may be thinking he is going to heaven because he once, without really meaning it, repeated a prayer someone told him to pray, or is religious, or goes to church, or considers himself to be a good person. However, this may be the reality: “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:22-23). Without repenting from sin and placing faith in Jesus, a person is bound for hell. “And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15). “For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another” (Titus 3:3). I would encourage every dad reading this to go through 1 John and evaluate whether you are in Christ. It is too important to take a chance on being deceived.

As dads, it is our responsibility to lead our families down the path the Lord has set before us. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10). Therefore, it is vitally important that we do all we can to protect ourselves from deception. Jesus warned about leaders who have a problem: “Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch” (Matthew 15:14).

First, I have to say that I believe it is unlikely, if not impossible, to embrace truth in every aspect of our lives. As long as we have a wicked and depraved heart, we will be susceptible to believing a lie. “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed” (James 1:14). Feeding our families may be difficult too, but is that any reason to give up, letting them go hungry? Of course not. We must fight the fight, lean not on our own understanding, and rest in the God of our strength. “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer” (Psalms 19:14).

As the leaders of our families, how does protecting against deception begin in our own lives? Self-examination becomes difficult because, if we are deceived, we likely aren’t going to be able to see it in ourselves. That is why the truth of God’s Word and the affirmation of His Spirit is critical. Are we having a quality personal time in the Word and in prayer every day? Please don’t consider something like listening to a preacher while driving to work a quality personal devotion. “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly” (Matthew 6:6). We should get in a quiet place, with no distractions, and focus on the Word of God and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to our hearts. Next, are we leading our families in a family time of reading the Bible together every day? God’s Word is a mirror to our souls, and it will point out the sin in our lives. (If you aren’t sure how to have family devotions with your family, or you are struggling with being consistent, we would strongly encourage you to consider our audio resource called Feed My Sheep: A Practical Guide to Daily Family Devotions.)

Are we forsaking the sin that we know is wrong? May we never, never accept sin in our lives because the consequences, for if we do, will be far-reaching. As an example, we often receive an e-mail from a wife who tells us about her husband who is enslaved to a “private” wicked sin, and this desperate woman is crying out for help and encouragement. The husband’s life is bound to his sin, and he is poisoning his family with it, even though he has deceived himself by thinking it is a personal sin that affects only him. His sin yields the bad fruit of violating his marriage, his sons becoming enslaved to the same sin, plus other consequences as well. Normally this man is an angry man because of the internal conflict raging in his heart between his depraved sin and the knowledge that it is wrong. His anger then spreads throughout the family, making family life a cauldron of contention. “Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul” (Proverbs 22:24-25). No matter how secure the chain that binds us to sin, we must yield it to be broken by the power of God. To receive God’s power, a man must begin with confession and repentance to his Lord and then to anyone he has offended. It may be that another man is needed to come alongside and help with accountability and support. In addition to a brother’s help, walls of protection might be needed to help guard against the pull of the flesh. May we be zealous for leading upright lives and not excuse sin in our lives.

Another important aspect of avoiding deception is obeying the truth that God has given us. “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth” (1 John 1:6). The way we live our lives must be consistent with the truth that God has revealed to us. If it is not, we are choosing to walk in darkness. We can be encouraged because God will give grace when we repent. We set a positive example for our family by confessing, repenting, and obeying. If we know the Lord Jesus, we will obey Him. “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments” (1 John 2:3).

Fellowship with other believers is also important in avoiding being deceived. Brothers need to exhort one another in the truth. “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25). When is the last time you loved a brother enough to ask him whether he was in the Word daily himself and leading his family in a daily Bible time? If you have not done this, why not? We are to exhort one another, and that is what God intends to happen within a fellowship. I know it is becoming more and more difficult to find like-minded, conservative churches. We must persevere until we find where and how the Lord would have us to worship. Truly, may we seek to obey the Lord Jesus in all areas.

Are we committed to walking in the truth and leading our families accordingly? Let no man deceive himself. What is sown shall be reaped. Next month we will look more deeply at deception and helping our families avoid it.