I’ve been thinking about that word. It is a word, like many others, that can be used to positively or negatively describe an attitude. It depends on its context. Sometimes we are content with things the way they are when we should not be. It’s the bad kind of contentment. Bill Hybels inspired me to realize that there are some things that require a “holy discontent”. That is when we are so brokenhearted about something, it causes us to do something to make a difference. The key is to understand that the adjective is crucial. Holy discontent. Being content without pursuing holiness typically means you turn a blind eye to the need and walk away.
So yes, there’s that kind of contentment. The status-quo kind. The unholy kind.
It’s kind of like anger. There’s righteous indignation and then there’s just plain ol’ indignation. In my opinion, most people have the latter most of the time. Today I’m thinking about the kind of contentment that requires us to keep the faith … and to stay. And maybe lose. Or possibly give. It’s a holy contentment that applies the verses like “rejoice always”, “pray without ceasing” and “do not worry” to our everyday lives . It helps us to rest in the truth of God’s promises. It is the kind of contentment that isn’t always impatiently looking for the better in this life, but is able to zoom out to the big picture of eternity.
We all know it, but sometimes we need to be reminded that nothing and no one is going to satisfy us completely this side of eternity. No bff. No spouse. No church. No method. Not even our favorite food or song or book.
We will never reach the destination of contentment if we are looking to someone other than our Abba Himself. Never. Ever. I know this well because I’ve tried to find contentment in all the wrong places so many times. Even bible study itself is not enough. Godliness WITH contentment is great gain.
I realize that social media often emphasizes how discontent we all are. It amazes me how much freedom people feel they have to vent all their grievances in such a public way. There’s always something wrong somewhere. People continually criticize to all their world how much discontentment they feel about the city in which they live, about the stores where they shop, the church they attend, the restaurants in which they eat … it’s never ending.
The opposite of contentment is nitpicking. My friend reminded me that that the world needs encouragers. After all, critics abound! Holy contentment helps us to be encouragers instead of critics. From those who serve us our meals to those who serve in our church or community, it’s time to resist the urge to demand our own way. I realize that it can be frustrating when things seem to go awry. But we can trust in God’s power to develop the characteristics of the Spirit in us during these times.
Unholy discontentment says: that’s not what I want nor is it my way, so I’m leaving.
Holy contentment says: that’s not what I want nor is it my way, but (if it’s not something clearly wrong) I’m all in.
Learning to be content brings with it more joy and peace. It also brings less grumbling
There are things about which we should be discontent. But those should be things that really matter. Like, in eternity.