I grew up in the age of the 45. Not a cruise speed of 45 miles per hour, I’m talking about vinyl records, played on a record player that had a turntable speed of 45 rpm. When music producers went to market for an artist, they printed the hit song on one side of the record and the less desirable on the flipside. On occasion, the tune on the flipside surprised everyone and scored higher on the charts than the song promoted and most desired. How does all that relate to contentment on the flip side?
We all want contentment. Contentment says “I like where I am. I like what I have. I like what I do. I like “fill-in-the-blank”. Don’t we all have those moments or days of feeling content? What is the source of contentment? There can be others, but one foundational source is gratitude. Being thankful for where we are, what we do, and what we have. Gratitude and appreciation. Colossian 3:15 implores us to be thankful “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” Notice that peace and thankful are joined together?
Remember the flipside of the 45? The less desirable song? On the flipside of contentment is what? Comparison! Nothing invades contentment more than the flipside, comparing! Comparison is the opposite of contentment. We are warned against comparison and told that it is not a wise act in 2 Corinthians 10:12 “We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.” When we look outward and see what ‘they’ have, or what ‘they’ have accomplished., or the house ‘they’ live in, or even the entertainment ‘they’ can afford, we can so easily be distracted from what ‘we’ already have.
Does this mean we should stop working toward goals? Should we not look for the better job that fits our talents, interests and our budget? Should we stop maintaining our homes and adding touches of beauty? Here’s one thought. Be thankful right now where you are. Express it. “I am thankful for: my home, my vehicle, my level of education, the fact that I have employment, the opportunity to be a stay-at-home-mom, food in my pantry, what else …”
There’s something alluring about contentment. It goes beyond the peace we feel when things are going well and we have something to look forward to. Contentment comes from being satisfied, when we have enough, when we are happy right where we are. Contentment is the companion of a grateful heart.
The apostle Paul had it together. Listen in on his self-revelation in Philippians 4:11-12 “ I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 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.” 1Timothy 6:8 expresses it very simply “If we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” Certainly we can have new clothes and good food to eat, but be content with God’s provision for this moment, and be thankful.
Time is gone for today, but think about contentment. It starts with a grateful heart, and leads to peace, to joy, to being the best we can be, with what we have, in this moment we have. I leave you with this final idea from Hebrews. I’m just throwing it out there for consideration. Hebrew 13:5 “ Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
Comparison is the opposite of contentment. Do you want to be content? Stop comparing!