Learning to Be Content
"I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 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." Philippians 4:11-12
The best time to learn lessons is in youth.
One of the lessons every Christian should learn, is to be contented. Discontent is a miserable fault. It not only makes the discontented person himself miserable, but it spreads the misery all around. One discontented person in a home, mars the happiness of the whole household.
Besides, discontent is wrong—it is sinful. It springs out of distrust of God, and unbelief in Christ. If we truly and fully believe in God's love and in Christ's care for us—we would never be discontented. What would a rich, thoughtful, loving parent think if his little child were always unhappy and afraid, never satisfied with anything, always complaining, sad, and murmuring? Would he not think his child, for one thing, very ungrateful; for another thing, distrustful, and of a wretched disposition? How must God think of his murmuring, repining, discontented children?
We ought to think sometimes how our behavior seems when seen from God's eye. We can readily see that discontent is sin.
Anything good in life must become a habit before it is a permanent part of our character. Character is simply the sum of our habits. If we train ourselves to do right, over and over and over—the right thing becomes at length a habit.
Similarly is it with the doing of wrong things. If we habitually indulge an appetite—we become at last its slave. If we begin in youth to grumble and find fault and be discontented with our lot in life—by and by we shall have formed a habit of discontent.
If, on the other hand, we learn in youth to accept whatever comes, with patience and quiet cheerfulness, to be easily satisfied, and, when there are rough places and hard experiences, to submit to them with joy and confidence—we shall form a habit of being contented—and a fixed habit of being contented is contentment.
So it appears that contentment cannot be learned in a day, but in many days and years. The best time to begin forming good habits is in youth—it is never too early to begin. Apply this truth to contentment. We believe we ought to be contented; that discontent is not beautiful; that it mars and disfigures character, that it makes life miserable; and that it is really sinful against God.
No young Christian wants to grow into a discontented man or woman at middle life or in old age. Probably you have seen some examples of discontent, and they have been frightful. Well, there is only one way to avoid growing into this ugliness—young people must begin in youth to train themselves to contentment. They must watch against discontent in the smallest things, and learn to accept whatever comes, pleasant or unpleasant, smooth or rough, easy or hard—with good nature and good temper.
They must watch against the first whispers of complaining and fault-finding and murmuring. Let those ugly ways once begin, and it is almost impossible to check them.
There are reasons why we should be contented, if we are God's children and Christ's saved ones. Our Father's love for us is reason enough. He is taking care of us, and the things that he sends or permits to come to us, are part of his loving purpose for us, and will be made blessings to us if we accept them trustingly.
Let young Christians then begin at once to train themselves to contentment. Regard it as sinful, to fret or complain and whine. Shun these faults as you would shun lying and swearing. Train yourself to trust in God and to accept all he gives as good—even though it be not pleasant. Learn to be cheerful, to find the bright spot which there is always in any set of circumstances. Learn to be glad-hearted, to be sunny-faced, to be sweet-spirited, to be good-natured. It will half make your fortune for you, even in a worldly sense. It will also help to build you up into a beautiful Christ-like character!