Contentment: Gateway to peace

Most singles are on a desperate quest for happiness, but a wiser goal is to pursue contentment.

You don't hear much about contentment nowadays. Maybe that's because so few people are genuinely satisfied with their life. And too, in ways subtle and shameless, the world is constantly holding up happiness as the ultimate prize.

Happiness is fleeting. Contentment is enduring. Happiness is shallow. Contentment is deep. Happiness depends on constant new things and experiences. Contentment comes from appreciating what you already have.

Let's explore the road to this soul-satisfying peace we all want so much.

The rarest of the rare

How many truly contented people have you met during your lifetime? I know! Very few.

Have you ever asked yourself why that is? It's because our culture drums into us, 24/7/365, "Life will be better if you:

  • Do this
  • Buy this
  • Think this

What is "this?" It's whatever the ad or person is pushing at that moment. Have you ever wondered why you want to buy the same brands of clothing as your friends? It's because you'll feel unhip, dorky, or uncomfortable if you don't fit in.

People seeking contentment rarely worry about what other people think. They don't let fads or peer pressure make their decisions for them.

It's always easy to go along with the crowd. It's a no-brainer, in fact, and that's what the influencers want. They make money when you click on their links or buy the stuff they endorse.

Contented people are the rarest of the rare because they think for themselves. They enjoy an exquisite experience in life: Freedom.

One of the G.L.O.A.T.s

Here's where we get down to the thing I want you to remember for the rest of your life, and you don't even have to read the whole article to do it!

I call it a G.L.O.A.T. That stands for Greatest Lessons Of All Time, and here it is:

Material things can never satisfy spiritual needs.

Every person on Planet Earth, including you, was born with spiritual needs in their heart. The problem is that most people never recognize those needs for what they really are. They believe, because they don't think for themselves, that they can buy, rent, or marry their way into fulfilling those needs.

Just look at hip-hop artists and the garish lifestyles they boast when they become rich: outlandish clothes, expensive automobiles, pretentious houses. Most of them grew up in poverty, so they believe all this flamboyance equals success.

If success is foolishness, then they're right.

Wait. What about my goals?

I don't want you to misunderstand me. I'm not advocating that you should spend your life living in a cave and praying all the time.

Martin Luther said we serve God in whatever vocation we are in. If you are a store clerk, you serve God by being the best store clerk you can be, and the same goes if you are a programmer, scientist, or government employee.

There's nothing wrong with seeking advancement, nor is it a sin to have a nice house and car. In my generation, however, a faction within the Church has twisted the Bible to make people believe God wants you to have these things. It's called the Prosperity Gospel, and it's dangerous.

Those "name-it-and-claim it" preachers say God dishes out "favor" in the form of desirable goods. But if that's true, what about the God-honoring people who are poor or bent down by illness? Are they experiencing God's dis-favor?

What God dispenses to his sincere followers is the fruit of the spirit: "love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." (Galatians 5:22-23, NIV) Those qualities are what we should really be after in life.

Instead, we mix up our priorities. It's such a temptation for us to get caught up in the world's values that God warned us in the very first Commandment:

"I am the LORD your God…You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:2-3).

God is so adamant about this that he withholds contentment from us when we turn career, possessions and even another person into our god.

In our secular society, no one will tell you to put God first, then everything else. Hard-driving bosses may imply that your job should be your top concern.

If you're young and ambitious, you may think you can give God his due after you've achieved your goals, but God won't be pushed to the side. Until he is Lord of your life, you're sinning against him.

It's not how much, it's Who

See the source of the assault: We live in a capitalistic, materialistic world. It revolves around money. While that may sound cynical, think about it for a minute. Doesn't it seem as if somebody is always trying to sell you something?

And then there's the never-discussed culprit who is constantly trying to get you to break the Commandments: Satan. The secular world says Satan is a fairy tale. The Bible says he is real and a constant threat. Who are you going to believe?

Contentment comes from an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. Why do so many rich people go to drug or alcohol rehab? Because they ignore this truth. They find the trappings of fame have no power to satisfy.

Piling up achievements, bling, or other worldly treasures may impress other people, but they can't make a person right. The French mathematician Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) explained why:

“There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of each man which cannot be satisfied by any created thing but only by God the Creator, made known through Jesus Christ.”

The sooner you accept and apply this truth, the sooner you'll be on the path to contentment, life's most profound joy.

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