A Habit of Contentment
“I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need” (Philippians 4:11-12).
The best time to learn lessons is in youth.
One of the lessons every Christian should learn is to be contented. Discontentment is a miserable fault. It not only makes the discontented person himself miserable, but it spreads misery all around. One discontented person in a home mars the happiness of the whole household.
Besides, discontentment is wrong; it is sinful. It springs out of distrust of God and unbelief in Christ. If we truly and fully believe in God’s love and in Christ’s care for us, we would never be discontented. What would a rich, thoughtful, loving parent think if his little child were always unhappy and afraid, never satisfied with anything, always complaining, sad, and murmuring? Would he not think his child very ungrateful, distrustful, and of a wretched disposition? How must God think of His murmuring, repining, discontented children?
We ought to think sometimes how our behavior seems when it is seen from God’s eye. We can readily see that discontentment is sin.
Anything good in life must become a habit before it is a permanent part of our character. Character is simply the sum of our habits. If we train ourselves to do right, over and over and over – the right thing eventually becomes a habit.
It is a similar situation with the doing of wrong things. If we habitually indulge a greedy appetite, we become its slave at last. If we begin in youth to grumble and find fault and be discontented with our lot in life, then by and by, we shall have formed a habit of discontentment.
If, on the other hand, we learn in youth to patiently, quietly, and cheerfully accept whatever comes, to be easily satisfied, and to submit to rough places and hard experiences with joy and confidence; then we shall form a habit of being contented, and a fixed habit of being contented is contentment.
So it appears that contentment cannot be learned in a day, but over many days and years. The best time to begin forming good habits is in youth; it is never too early to begin. Apply this truth to contentment. We believe that we ought to be contented, that discontentment is not beautiful, that it mars and disfigures character, that it makes life miserable, and that it is sinful against God.
No young Christian wants to grow into a discontented man or woman at middle life or in old age. You have probably seen some examples of discontentment, and they have been frightful. Well, there is only one way to avoid growing into this ugliness; young people must begin in youth to train themselves to contentment. They must watch against discontentment in the smallest things, and they must learn to accept whatever comes – pleasant or unpleasant, smooth or rough, easy or hard – with good nature and good temper.
They must watch against the first whispers of complaining and fault-finding and murmuring. Let those ugly ways once begin, and it is almost impossible to stop them.
There are reasons why we should be contented, if we are God’s children and Christ’s saved ones. Our Father’s love for us is reason enough. He is taking care of us; and the things that He sends or permits to come to us are part of His loving purpose for us, and will be made blessings to us if we accept them trustingly.
Let young Christians, then, begin at once to train themselves in the habit of contentment! Regard it as sinful to fret or complain or whine. Shun these faults as you would shun lying and swearing. Train yourself to trust in God and to accept all that He gives as good – even though it may not always be pleasant. Learn to be cheerful and to find the bright spot which always exists in any set of circumstances. Learn to be glad-hearted, sunny-faced, sweet-spirited, and good-natured. It will half-make your fortune for you, even in a worldly sense. It will also help to build you up into a beautiful Christ-like character!
I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments on this article! Feel free to leave your reflections and ask your questions below.
God bless you and your family, this day and always.
All for our King’s glory,
photo by Prixel Creative | Lightstock.com
This post is another installment of Miller’s Monday Musings, a weekly series that is published every Monday on my website. The series features selected writings that have been adapted from the works of James Russell Miller (1840-1912), a much-beloved Christian author and pastor who is well-remembered for his practical thoughts on Christian home and family life. Learn more about this weekly series by clicking here.