Striking a Balance…

…To ensure Contentment, but not Complacency. 

During a group prayer this week, a prayer point was raised which said; “Father help us to be content with who we are and where we are, but not to be complacent. Enable us to still work hard to get to where we are meant get to”.

Instantly I knew this was the word for you guys this week.

How on earth do we get that balance right between being happy in our present state, but being driven enough to push to get to the next level?

The simplest answer is through the grace, direction and wisdom of God, but let’s get into it a bit more than that.

Let’s look at what the bible tells us about contentment…

Now godliness with contentment is great gain.
For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.
But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.
10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”
[1 Timothy 6:6-10]

Now I understand that this passage may bother some of us.
Because we’ll look at it and think, ‘hold up – am I only meant to desire food and drink, and be happy with just getting by with the bear minimum in life’.
But allow me to explain that God is not telling us not to strive for greatness here.
He is not telling us that being hard working and ambitious is wrong. Neither is He telling us that we should not work towards goals and aims and achieve the best! (In fact His word says otherwise! – Proverbs 12:24, Proverbs 14:23)

The message of God through this passage is in fact that we must not become so consumed with amassing wealth, money, riches and all sorts of earthly pleasures, that we lose sight of where we are going for eternity.
What we read about here are the dangers that lie in the wrongful desire of getting more. And by wrong – I mean a desire for more that stems from selfishness, greed and even jealousy of what we’ve seen on others.
Verse 9 and 10 of this passage help to depict the fact that when we long for more, we expose ourselves to temptation which so easily can lead to a downward spiral of dabbling in sinful activities just to get what we want, by any means possible – thus, walking out of God’s will for us.

So question, by nature, and through Adam and Eve’s slip up, I guess we always seem to want more right? How can we protect ourselves from the negatives of this, and from the risk of being tempted?

This is where our chit chats (prayers) with God come in handy.
First pray for the fear of the Lord – Proverbs 19:23 – which will help commit our actions to Him, and enable us to do the right things.
Remember Proverbs 4:23 says to guard our hearts, because it determine our actions – this verse also crucial in this area of our lives.
In daily prayer, we ought to ask God to purify our hearts and keep it aligned with His will, as an upright heart will surely have an impact on the intention of our desires.

You see, a guarded heart will want more, not so they can show it all off and make a parade of how great they are, but so that they are enabled to do God’s work better, and are able to serve others better.
A guarded heart will pursue greatness not because of what the world will say, and how the world will speak of them but instead because of how the world will speak of the God who created them! They know that they are a representation of Christ on earth, therefore their spirit must be excellent and their presence must be one which inspires and encourages others to want to know Jesus. And causes others speak highly of the Jesus that lives within them.

So let’s get some things straight: 

Godly contentment is not equivalent to settling for less.

Godly contentment is not synonymous with poverty.

Godly contentment does not encourage laziness.

Rather;

Godly contentment is standing firmly in the Father, with your attitude towards His work and ministry being unchanged and unshaken regardless of whether you have only a penny in your pocket, or a million pounds in your bank account.

Godly contentment is obedience to God’s will, and refusing to go against your morals, good ways or Holy Spirit convictions in order to fulfil your own selfish ambitions.

Godly contentment is Hebrews 13:5-6 – knowing that God IS EVERYTHING to us, and for us – He is all we need, therefore we need not worry about trying to make a better tomorrow for ourselves (Matthew 6:25-34), as this is in His hands already!

So to the main question – how do we ensure our being content, does not easily slip into being complacent?

Well firstly what is complacency?

(Cambridge dictionary definition): feeling so satisfied with your own abilities or situation that you feel you do not need to try harder. 

(Oxford dictionary definition): Showing smug or uncritical satisfaction with oneself or one’s achievements.

The first important thing to understand about complacency, is that immediately, it exudes an inappropriate focus on self.
It contains an attitude of I, I, I, and as a child of God, this is flawed.
We are to acknowledge Him in all ours ways (Proverbs 3:6), therefore making us and God a team. At no point should we ever feel like anything we are doing is by our own knowledge, strength or power, because the bible makes it clear that we are enabled by the grace of God. (2 Corinthians 12:9, Philippians 4:13)

Whilst contentment displays an attitude that rests in God, complacency displays an attitude of detachment and independence from God.
The definitions above clearly show that complacency also encompasses an element of pride – the belief that we’re all that and more.
But look at this, the bible teaches us in Galatians 6:3, that if we think this way, we’re actually deceiving ourselves!
In context of our topic, an attitude of being self-sufficient and attributing everything to our own ability, and not thinking we need to get any better, actually presents us with the danger of falling; the bible teaches us that pride precedes a nasty fall. (Proverbs 16:18)

Therefore we must take care… Not only in our earthly goals and endeavours, but even more importantly in our walk with Christ.
Never should we feel like ‘We have arrived’, and have reached the pinnacle of our lives, instead we should embrace the fact that with God, there is always so much more potential and opportunity for elevation awaiting us, if only we will yield to His will and allow Him to take us higher.
Again we ought to use our daily conversations with God to ask for a heart that is humble, obedient and teachable – one that yes, is happy with whatever God presents us with, but is also willing to achieve more through and with the power God.

The last point I’ll touch on, is that complacency displays an inability to reflect and want to do better. The Oxford definition describes it as an uncritical state of mind. For some of us, whilst this may not necessarily come from a place of pride, it definitely comes from an place of laziness and nonchalance. This too is undesirable before God, as it displays a lack of forward thinking and drive!
We have all been gifted with talents that we ought to use to decorate this earth with. If we have the wrong attitude towards life – like the servant who buried his one talent rather than investing it, then God will take what He has given us, and give it to someone who will put it to greater use! (Matthew 25:14-30)
Thus, whilst contentment comes through reflection and appreciation of God’s hand in our lives, complacency comes from an inaccurate assessment of where we are, and underestimates where God can take us to.
Being happy with the present does not mean to not plan for a better future, and in fact the bible warns us against laziness and its fruits. (Proverbs 20:4, Proverbs 6:9-11)

Therefore, Today I pray with us, 
That we will be able to see the greater heights that we’re heading towards, but still be very present in the moment we are living in.
May we learn to embrace each season we are in, whilst also being attentive to God when He instructs us to take the next steps.
May we rid ourselves of all pride and pompousness that falsely believes we are more than we are, and rather appreciate that all things come from God, are for the glory of God, and thus we should always aim for more glory to come to His name.
May we learn to strike the perfect balance between between godly contentment and not being complacent, in order to progress, improve and grow in the many ways God desires for us to.
In Jesus’ name.
Amen

Keep the Faith, Don’t Stop Believing
God Bless you.

 

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