November brings us to the time of year when we observe our national Thanksgiving holiday here in the US. I’m glad we have a special day set aside to remember God’s gracious provision for us. But, that shouldn’t obscure the reality that we are commanded by God to demonstrate a grateful spirit every day of the year. I call that a spirit of “Thanksliving.”
How important is it to be thankful? In Romans 1:21, Paul outlines the downward course of a person toward reprobation. He says, “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful…” One of the first steps away from God is, not exercising a grateful spirit.
The secret of maintaining a grateful spirit is to be Content
Ungratefulness and covetousness are closely related. In I Corinthians 6:9,10 covetousness is listed right beside sins such as immorality and drunkenness. That’s because this sin becomes the channel by which we are led deeper into the sins of the flesh and spirit.
Hebrews 13:5 tells us that the secret to maintaining a grateful spirit is to be Content. To me, contentment has always carried the idea of being satisfied, being at rest. Like the proverbial cow, chewing its cud. But this is a verb, it denotes action. This word carries the idea of raising a barrier; to ward off something. We must ward off things that foster discontent. Someone has defined contentment this way; “recognizing that God has provided everything I need for my present happiness.” That attitude will insulate us from the rank materialism that is so pervasive in our culture.
The ability to be Content rest on our faith in God’s promises
Why can you and I be content with what we have? Because God has promised that He will NEVER leave us or forsake us. The literal translation is like this. “No, I will not leave thee; no, neither will I not utterly forsake thee.” It is a very emphatic statement. This is the ultimate security. And that’s what we are seeking when we struggle with covetousness; security. And that’s what we are seeking when we struggle with covetousness; security. We must realize that true security is found in our relationship to God and His promises to us.
That realization of God’s care should dispel all our fears. The word fear, in Hebrews 13:6 is the equivalent of our word phobia. Now a phobia is not temporary fright. A phobia is a state of fear one lives in. The dictionary says it is an irrational fear. So, for believers, the fear of man is irrational. Jesus said, “don’t fear those who kill the body but fear Him who can destroy both soul and body.”
Our faith in God’s promises is demonstrated by our lifestyle choices
One thing I want to make clear, there is a vast difference between contentment and complacence! Remember, contentment is active. It’s accepting what God has given and using it for His glory. It’s erecting a barrier to those things that foster discontent. Complacence is passive, it’s the attitude of, “whatever.” It gives the idea of not caring or not being concerned. 1 Timothy 6:6 states that “godliness with contentment is great gain.” What are some practical things we can do to develop this quality of great value?
Realize that all we have comes from God.
Accepting the sovereignty of God goes a long way in helping us to be content. This applies to possessions, circumstances, abilities, spiritual gifts and so on. Along with that we must be convinced that who we are is not dependent on what we have.
Flee from temptation.
Don’t go to the mall, the sporting goods store, or the tool aisle at Home Depot just to “window shop.” You may think it’s harmless but it feeds that desire for more. You know Satan will always help us find ways to justify our selfishness.
Our lifestyle choices reflect our contentment or lack of it
Be willing to give as the Lord directs you. Have you ever been saving money for a particular need, or want, and God directed you to take that money and give to a need that someone else has? Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit in relation to giving. That will help you develop a contented heart.
Be aware of the plight of our brothers and sisters in other lands who suffer for their faith in Christ.
By entering into their sufferings and seeing how committed they are and how little they have materially, we can be challenged to be more content. Wishing you Happy ThanksLiving and the great riches of contentment!
Sincerely in the HOPE of the Gospel, HERALDS OF HOPE, INC.
© Copyright 2002, Heralds of Hope, Inc.