Contentment as a Key to Generosity
By PAUL DAMON
In our last blog post, we introduced 3 keys to having a generous spirit:
We looked at each of these characteristics briefly, but today, we will focus more specifically on contentment.
The role of contentment
Contentment is an indicator of our attitude about our current state of affairs. It has much to do with how we feel about where God has us now.
Often, contentment has a lot to do with the level of success we feel in key areas of our lives:
And quite frankly, contentment is often a matter of how we compare ourselves to others around us. But that’s a big topic—one deserving of another blog post all its own.
The secret to contentment in all circumstances
As I was studying and writing about the topic of contentment, an interesting thing happened: I took a break to haul something to my basement for storage through the coming winter. I don’t go down there much—maybe once a week on average—but as I entered the back storage room, I was greeted by what I can only describe as a wading pool.
My basement was flooded, and water was rising. So in the midst of thinking and writing about having a spirit of contentment, I was suddenly faced with the challenge of actually practicing what I preached.
At first, I was feeling a range of emotions: anger, frustration, fear, helplessness, and more. It took me a moment or 2, but finally, I said, “Lord, help me to be grateful and content with my reality, in spite of what I am experiencing.”
In Phillipians 4:12, the Apostle Paul writes, “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.”
When I first read that passage, I thought, “Great, he is going to give us the ‘secret’ to being content.” From a human perspective, I expected to find some of the usual responses to this challenge of contentment:
- Look at all that God has done for you!
- Look at what you have and think of all those who have less than you.
- Focus on what you do have, not on what you don’t have.
While all of these responses can be helpful, they all rely on us – on controlling and monitoring our own attitudes. Now, attitude is important. But it is not enough.
Which brings us to the next verse: “I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (v. 13).
What? That’s it?? No pithy philosophy? No trite saying that I can hang my hat on? No deep spiritual insight to blow me away?
But as I think about it, I realize that this is a deep spiritual insight that blows me away! It is only through the power of God that I can be content with my current reality.
As I stood there in my basement in a shallow pool of water, that is exactly what I subconsciously realized. I couldn’t will myself to feel content. I couldn’t make myself feel grateful for the mess I had. But I could pray and ask God to give me a spirit of contentment and gratefulness.
That is a powerful lesson for me to learn and practice the rest of my days on this earth. It is only thru the power of God that I can do anything. And without Him, I can do nothing!
God bless you in your journey to be a good and faithful steward.