Character of Marriage - Contenment, part3

The last two blog posts talked about contentment. [part1 and part2] What does all of that have to do with marriage?

THE CONTENTED MARRIAGE

Contentment in my life in general influences how content I am in my marriage. Much of contentment comes from how I view life. My emotional tie to how other people act towards me determines my happiness or contentment.

Proverbs 5 is a warning to stay away from the temptations of adultery. Verse 18 says “may you rejoice in the wife [husband] of your youth.”

As long as I think that there is someone out there that can make me happy or make me feel better about myself or make me feel loved, then I will be discontent in my marriage.

My eyes and mind will begin to wander. “The grass is greener on the other side of the fence.” Maybe it is greener because it is cared for. The grass on my side of the fence would be greener if I water it, nourish it, and care for it.

The same principles hold true in having contentment in marriage as being content with my house.[see last post] We can be upset and angry about our situation or we can learn to make the most of it.

No one can satisfy those needs in my life but God. As long as I am looking to my spouse to meet the needs of my life, I will be discontent. He/she will never be able to do enough or do the right thing.

When I seek God to meet the needs of my life, my marriage becomes a place where I give to my spouse out of what God has given to me. It is a place of giving, not of seeing what I can get.

Instead of thinking about and complaining about what I am unhappy with, I enjoy the good traits of my spouse. I express appreciation to my spouse for his strengths and his character. I notice what he/she does for me and for the family. I thank him for the little things and the big things. I take time to look at all the good in the person God has given me. I thank Him for giving me a perfect gift and I express gratitude to Him for His goodness in that person.

I think it takes many years for most couples to find contentment in their marriage. Their discontent usually comes from an uneasiness that they have on the inside. They keep looking for a way to fill that void, a way to find peace, fulfillment, and satisfaction.

If only people would act differently towards me, I would be happier.

If only people understood me or appreciated me or helped me more, life would be good.

When I get to that place of accepting my mate, appreciating him, thinking about all of his great qualities, a sense of contentment settles in. I quit looking for other options. I quit wondering if I made a wrong choice. I quit trying to change my spouse into who I think he should be.

I enjoy our time together, even if it is just riding in the same car, not talking, just being in each other’s presence.

It is really a golden place in a marriage.

Gratitude is a handmaiden of contentment. An ever-growing attitude of gratitude will certainly make us more content since we will be focusing more on what we do have, both spiritually and materially, than on what we do not have. But contentment is more than focusing on what we have. It is focusing on the fact that all we do have; we have by the grace of God. We do not deserve anything we have, materially or spiritually. It is all by His grace.
Jerry Bridges

Character of Marriage - Contentment,part2

In my last post, I talked about the discontent in our culture today. Is anyone really content anymore?

The more things I see that entice me to buy, the more I want. The more I want, the more discontent I become.

The more I see other people's experiences, the more I want to have those experiences. The more I see other people's relationships, the more I want those kind of relationships. The more I see other marriages, the more I want a different marriage..... and on ..... and on........

I remember many years ago hearing someone warn, "Be careful what you expose yourself to - it can create discontent for a lifetime." I thought back to when my husband and I went on a cruise. I didn't have to lift a finger to do anything... no cooking but I had delicious meals in abundance ... no cleaning but my room was cleaned up every time I left it ... no planning what we were going to do for fun because there were many options available at all times ... didn't have to go to work, we were on vacation.

Wow, I could live like that and be happy.

But can I live without any of it and be happy? Can going on a cruise cause discontent? Can going into Best Buy and looking at TV's create discontent? Can watching another married couple together cause discontent?

Isn't it okay to want something different in my life?

What does real contentment look like?

True Contentment
Contentment, then, is the product of a heart resting in God. It is the soul’s enjoyment of that peace that passes all understanding. It is the blessed assurance that God does all things well, and is, even now, making all things work together for my ultimate good. A.W. Pink

True contentment comes as I find joy in what I have. It comes when I enjoy the material possessions I have instead of complaining or being dissatisfied.

Instead of complaining about my house, I become thankful for having a place to live and I make the best use of it. So, I will take care of it, clean it, paint it, and fix it up as much as I can. I recognize that it is a gift from God and I am a good steward of what He has given me. It doesn’t mean that I don’t make plans or work towards a better house. But I am not angry or upset about where I live; I am not complaining. I am not neglectful of the house I have.

True contentment is the power of getting out of any situation all that there is in it. G.K. Chesterton

I have known people who keep thinking, "If I could just change ______________ , I would be happy." Or .... "If I could just have ____________, I would be happy."

They are continually disappointed or upset with their stage of life or relationships or financial situation. They think most people have a better situation than they do. They rarely enjoy what they do have. Some are not grateful for the good in the people that surround them. Or for some, no matter what their financial condition, it is never enough.

Life doesn't have to be that way.

Paul said it best in Philippians 4:11-12, I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

I have to ask myself, “what or who brings real satisfaction to my life?”

If I am looking to anyone or anything else apart from God to bring satisfaction to my life, I will never be content.

When I get to the place in my relationship with Him that He satisfies my life, then the rest of life is the icing on the cake. I am one of those people who actually loves the icing on the cake, but I wouldn't want a plate of icing. That would be too much, even for me. The icing adds beauty to the cake, but it isn't the substance of the cake. It's extra, a bonus! The substance of life is our relationship to our Lord, but He has given us so much more. He has given us many extras in life for our enjoyment.

My relationships give me extra joy; they are not the basis of my happiness.

A nice home brings gratitude in my heart; it is not something I demand or think I deserve.

A good savings account offers me the opportunity to give and serve more; it is not the basis of my security.

Paul says in 1 Timothy 6:6-8, But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.

The contented person experiences the sufficiency of God’s provision for his needs and the sufficiency of God’s grace for his circumstances. He believes God will indeed meet all his material needs and that He will work in all his circumstances for his good. That is why Paul could say, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” The godly person has found what the greedy or envious or discontented person always searches for but never finds. He has found satisfaction and rest in his soul. Jerry Bridges

What does all of this have to do with marriage?
See our next post!

Character of Marriage - Contentment, part1


Does anyone really experience contentment today?

That question was posed to us recently as we taught about contentment to a small group Bible study.

When I ask most people what contentment means to them, most people express the idea of having peace in their lives. A sense of peace is probably included in feeling content. Contentment goes beyond peace. Being content includes being satisfied with what one has.

When we compare what we have to others, we rarely compare ourselves to those who have less than we have. Invariably, we compare our life to those who have more.

When a child become dissatisfied with his life, he usually wants the clothes, gadget, or car that he sees his friends having. A child rarely comes home and says, "I am so fortunate. I have so much more than other kids at my school." It is usually more like, "All my friends have a car. Why can't I have a car?" He compares his life to those who have more, not those who have less.

I like electronic gadgets. I understand discontentment.

He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have. Socrates

In the New Testament, contentment most often refers to one’s financial status or physical circumstance.Looking back to the origins of discontentment helps us see the challenge of contentment today.

The Origin of Discontentment

Adam and Eve had the entire garden, all of perfection at their finger tips. Satan enticed them to be dissatisfied, discontent with what they had. He tempted them to want more. They wanted the one thing that God said that they couldn’t have – the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

In Genesis 3:2-5, Satan challenged God’s Word to the first couple.
   The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, 
  ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” 

   “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 

Satan really was trying to say to them, “God is withholding something good from you. He has something that He doesn’t want you to have."

Satan still tempts us in the same way. Instead of taking stock of what we do have, of the abundance of what God has given us, we start wanting more possessions or different experiences.

Since the fall, mankind has become restless. He is not satisfied with what he has. He wants what he does not have.

Have you ever know people who are always looking for the newest, latest deal to make money?
...Or the quickest new way to lose weight?
...Or they are unhappy in the their marriage because they think that a different person would make them happier?

The very first temptation in the history of mankind was the temptation to be discontent…that is exactly what discontent(ment) is – a questioning of the goodness of God. Jerry Bridges

What do we call that? That is coveting. We covet something we don’t have. We think about. We are unhappy or dissatisfied until we get it.

The antidote for covetousness is contentment. The two are in opposition. Whereas the covetous, greedy person worships himself, the contented person worships God. Contentment comes from trusting God. John MacArthur

We see discontentment in almost every area of life today.
“I want a bigger house.”
“I need a newer car.”
“I wish I had a (fill in the name of the latest electronic gadget).”
“Other women have husbands who will listen to them. I need someone who will listen to me; my husband doesn't listen."

What is true contentment?
And what does this have to do with marriage?

See our next post!