Erika F. Puni, Director, General Conference Stewardship
Summary: Contentment is trusting God, no matter what the cost. It is living out the principles of stewardship where Jesus is Lord over all. It is finding contentment in God’s covenant of love, His sustaining power and rulership and in His will for us.
Our baby daughter, Janae-Grace, is only three months old, and she has already shown us signs of contentment. Provided her nappy is dry and she has had her sleep and feeding, she is a very happy child. She can be awake and left by herself for a few minutes while we are doing something else and be quite content. Just today, some friends took us out for lunch, and they commented, “She is a very contented baby.” They remarked about her healthy skin, smiling face and cheerful expressions. As parents, we took their comments to mean that our baby’s needs are being met; she is satisfied, comfortable and relaxed. Contentment is a quality of life expected by God’s children.
Contentment in God’s covenant of love
Included in the Ten Commandments given to Israel at Sinai is the tenth command, which calls for God’s people to be satisfied with the blessings God Himself gives them (Ex 20; Dt 5). Interestingly, like the other nine, this commandment is in the context of a God who had invited Israel to be in a covenant relationship with Him (Ex 19:5-6). They were to be His special people in the world. In Exodus 20, contentment is an experience and consequence that is made possible because of connectedness to God.
Another significant aspect of contentment for the people of Israel was the awareness that God had already saved them (Ex 20:1-2), and as such, He expected them to be content with what they received from Him through grace (Ex 20:17). More importantly, contentment is an expression of our worship of God and a demonstration of our love toward our neighbors.
Contentment in the sustaining God
The psalmist David was content with God when he said, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want” (Ps 23:1). In this psalm, he pictures himself as a sheep—feeding in green pastures, drinking from a quiet, slow-flowing stream, being watched over by the “Good Shepherd.” To David, the psalm was a hymn of gratitude and testimony to a God who provides and sustains daily. It is a psalm about a God who always watches and protects His flock. It is the story of the Almighty who reaches out to His people in all generations and blesses them, because of His everlasting love. Psalm 23 is a promise of God’s divine providence, protective power and His constant presence with David then, and with us today.
Contentment in God’s rulership
The disciples had been with Jesus—their teacher and mentor—as observers and ministry assistants, but the time had now come for them to live out the principles of His Kingdom. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled” (Mt 5:3-6).
In this sermon, Jesus clearly demonstrates how God deals with people who are in relationship with Him. He blesses them before He asks for a love response from them. Moreover, the sense of well-being, inner peace and contentment experienced by the disciples, in spite of the pressing challenges of the world outside, is a reflection of a life that is under the control and lordship of Jesus Christ.
The willing submission of the disciple’s heart to the will of God (as taught by Jesus in the above passage) is what stewardship and discipleship is all about. It is practical Christian living—for discipleship means surrendering self fully to God. What matters is not just giving Him our resources, time and skills; it is releasing all we have in Him to Him, including our hearts. Contentment is trusting God, no matter what the cost. It is living out the principles of stewardship where Jesus is Lord over all.
Contentment and the will of God
A key element of the Lord’s Prayer that Christ taught the disciples is the double emphasis on God’s “kingdom” and “will” (Mt 6:10). Both concepts speak to the one reality: that God must rule supremely. For Jesus, this desire to live the life of the Father was paramount in all He did during His earthly ministry. At Gethsemane, when He struggled alone while His associates were asleep, His commitment to this divine purpose was demonstrated as He prayed, “My Father … your will be done” (Mt 26:42). And, even on the cross of Calvary where He suffered death as the Savior of the world, He continued to trust God with these words, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Lk 23:46).
Contentment for Jesus is living the will of His Father, always. But what about us, His stewards and people today? Are we willing to live out His will in our life and service for Him?