The Apostle Paul said he had learned the secret of being content all the time. Rich Nathan, pastor of Columbus Vineyard Church in Columbus, OH, says he thinks he knows the formula for contentment, and I think he’s 100 percent on target.
Here is Rich in his own words:
(Christ’s Strength + Gratitude) – (Grumbling + Entitlement) = Contentment
START WITH CHRIST’S STRENGTH. Paul says in Philippians 4.13, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” Our sufficiency is not in ourselves. The ability to go beyond our circumstance, to rise above our circumstance, to be independent of our circumstance, is found through the strength of Christ alone.
“I can do everything. I have the power,” Paul says. “I have the resources. I can prevail. I can have victory. I can master the circumstances of my life. I have enough resources to counter anything that I’m facing. But not in myself; only by Christ’s strength can I overcome!”
How do we gain the strength of Christ? We pray: “Come fill me with the person and presence of Jesus. Give me your sufficiency. I’m not sufficient to deal with this talkative person. I’m not sufficient to deal with this complainer, with this paper work or with the aggravating client. I am weak, but you are strong! Dear God, fill me with Christ!”
ADD A LARGE MEASURE OF GRATITUDE. Regularly say thank you to God for every blessing. For everything God is, say thank you. In every and any circumstance, return thanks to God. The mark of contentment is thanksgiving. Paul’s life was a model of continual thanksgiving. In surveying Paul’s letters, I discovered at least 35 individual instances of Paul giving thanks to God.
SUBTRACT GRUMBLING. We start to learn the secret of contentment when we discipline our mouths. We can say, “I’m going to start biting my tongue. I will not verbalize complaints. I can choose to control my speech. I will not grumble about my circumstances because grumbling poisons my soul.”
SUBTRACT ENTITLEMENT. By subtracting our sense of entitlement, I’m not talking about giving up our legal rights. I mean tracing our grumbling back to its roots. Grumbling is rooted in a sense of entitlement that we deserve more. “I deserve different treatment. I deserve better treatment. I didn’t sign up for this. Why should I be stuck in traffic? I deserve more – more pay; more recognition; more opportunities; more responsibilities. I deserve better – better hours; better help; better bosses; a better family; less frustration; less hassle; fewer interruptions.
If we want to really get to the root of our entitlement, we need to ask ourselves a simple question: Why? Why do we deserve more and better? Why? What is it about us that is so special? At bottom we are really saying that God and life owe us more. But God is never in our debt. He owes us nothing! Living above our circumstances, living beyond our circumstances, having inner peace whatever our circumstances, this is the good life that Christ invites us into this holiday season!
Well said, Rich. Amen and Amen!!