Today it is hard to find anyone who claims that they are truly content. The definition of contentment is the state of being mentally or emotionally satisfied with things as they are.
Most of the time, many people report that they don’t seem to be content; they want more…
More things, more money, more influence…
The list of wants can go on forever.
It seems that the culture of America fuels this constant desire for more as we see people who have more than we have and we imagine that they are happier than we are. You know… If I had their new Range Rover, I would be happy. If I could win the lottery like they did, I would be content. I need to not just work for the company, I need to own the company so I can tell everyone else what to do…then I will be so happy.
But when one considers this type of contentment, it is based on what we have or what we don’t have. The problem is if we live life thinking about what we lack all the time, we will never have enough, but J.I. Packer* is discussing the idea of contentment on a much higher plane. Are you content with your God? Packer writes about this as a sign that you really know God: “Those who know God have great contentment in God.”
What does he mean “contentment in God.”
Here is what he says: “There is no peace like the peace of those whose minds are possessed with full assurance that they have known God, and God has known them, and that this relationship guarantees God’s favor to them in life, through death and on forever” [Packer, 31].
Since Packer has referenced the book of Daniel and the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego so much, where does this special type of contentment appear in that Biblical episode? Daniel and his three friends decide they can’t worship the image of Nebuchadnezzar after they are told they must. They know they will be thrown in the fiery furnace. Packer says their reply is a classic case of men of God showing their contentment with God.
“O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But if He does not, we want you to know, O king that we will not serve your gods” [from the book of Daniel].
Instead of striving to be content about the possessions they have or don’t have, these three men are concerned about much more. They are content that God will be there to save them from death. They are content to put their lives in God’s hands.
They have the greatest of faith.
Some would consider this situation and think, what is the likelihood that I will find myself having to declare my faith and that declaration will cost me my life? Being threatened with a fiery furnace is pretty dramatic, pretty extreme…
But Packer says we all are faced with a serious truth when we declare that we love God and we want Him in our lives, when we are “justified” through our faith. That justification is not something that we need to take for granted. When we make our declaration of love for God, we are “made right” with our Savior; our declaration is based on our faith that God will wipe away our sins and we are worthy. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus because we know we will not be able to move forward in life with sinless behavior. We have to have faith that He will be there for us when hard times come, when temptations arise, when we do anything that separates us from the love of Christ. We are no longer just living life for ourselves; we are living life with God as His child. We are heirs of His kingdom; He will cover us with His love as we live out our lives. That is the faith that we show.
Well, you and I are not facing a fiery furnace.
What we are facing is life with all its ups and downs. Here is the big question.
Are we content that God is going to be there for us?
Packer writes: “There is no peace like the peace of those whose minds are possessed with full assurance that they have known God, and God has known them, and that this relationship guarantees God’s favor to them in life, through death and on forever.”
Packer quotes a hymn by Richard Baxter to summarize his thoughts on this matter. When you think about Baxter’s lyrics, he just may have it right:
“Lord, it belongs not to my care
Whether I die or live;
To love and serve Thee is my share,
And this Thy grace must give.
If life be long, I will be glad,
That I may long obey;
If short, yet why should I be sad
To soar to endless day?”
The life of the Christian…
A life of faith…
A life of knowing God…
*J.I. Packer, Knowing God