Normally, when we hear the word “contentment,” we immediately think of material wealth. We know we ought to be happy with that rusty car and last year’s cell phone model.
Certainly, God wants us to be grateful for our possessions. But He wants something more. God wants us to be satisfied not only with our stuff, but also with our situation in life — With the unique place He has put us right now. This may be even harder than being content with our stuff.
Are you content in Christ today? Do you recognize you have been treated far better than you deserve? Can you sing with sincerity, “Hallelujah! All I have is Christ! Hallelujah! Jesus is my life!”
In 1 Corinthians 7:17, while discussing marriage, the Apostle Paul makes an incredible statement on contentment: “Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him.”
Every Christian sovereignly summoned by the will of God has also been sovereignly assigned a unique place to serve. Paul says we have been “assigned” or appointed to this. The Greek word is merizo, meaning to divide into parts, to deal or distribute out. To put it bluntly, God wants us to play the cards we have been dealt.
Just think. The God of the universe ordained you to be exactly where you are at this moment. You aren’t there by accident, or some cruel twist of fate. It may feel at times like life is spinning out of control, or that poor choices drove you to where we are today. But rest assured. Nothing happens by accident! Even Joseph’s years in a filthy dungeon, and Jonah’s three day vacation in the belly of a fish were all part of God’s itinerary.
Pause for a moment and realize that God has sovereignly and lovingly chosen you to be exactly where you are today.
Paul instructs us to be content where we are, and to bloom where we are planted. This is so different from how we usually think. Teenagers look at the opportunities stretched before them and can’t wait to finish high school. Single adults can’t wait to find that special someone and get married. Newlyweds can’t wait to have children. New parents can’t wait for a full night’s sleep. Parents of teenagers can’t wait for some peace and quiet around the home. Empty nesters can’t wait to retire. And then, after all of that looking to the future, senior citizens look back and say, “Oh to be 20 again!” Do you see this vicious cycle? Everybody wants to be someone else, somewhere else, instead of where God has them today.
The Apostle Paul, however, exhorts us to accept our current situation as a gift from God. Instead of looking off to the horizon, we are to be content and thankful for today. We aren’t to compare ourselves to others and think, “Oh, I wish I was there,” or “I wish I had that.”
Paul knows contentment was not an isolated problem in Corinth, so he says, “This is my rule in all the churches” (1 Cor. 7:17). It is a command given to everybody, including us. Just a few verses later, he repeats, “Each one should remain in the condition in which he was called” (v. 20). Then again in verse 24, he says, “in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God.”
Now, it may be that one day, God will call us to a new situation (e.g. a single person to get married). But we can’t rush God’s timetable or grumble over the lot we’ve been given.
So stop right there. Offer a prayer of thanksgiving and contentment. God has you right where he wants you.