Contentment—Finding Full Satisfaction

March 3, 2014

“You get what you want, but it is never enough.”

I know I have said it more than once, as I addressed a vexing tendency in our children. They are eager to get something (toy, airsoft gun, electronic game – the list seems endless). After frequent requests, they finally receive what they have been demanding. Yet, the joy and satisfaction are fleeting. Soon come the desires for the next version of whatever it is they wanted. They want something new, something just a little bit better.

But this is not just a trait of children. Apple has built an entire business model on the fact that human nature is rarely satisfied. We always want a lighter computer, a smarter phone – something more, something better.

This insatiable hunger flows from our fallen nature, which struggles with discontent. We try to satisfy it with things the world offers (gifts, relationships, addictions to good/bad things), but we always end up wanting more of something.

The discontent of God’s people Israel led to blatant idolatry (ours is more subtle) and spiritual rebellion, which then led to God’s just chastisement as his people suffered defeat and exile.

In mercy, God did not chastise his people forever. He promised full redemption and abundant restoration. In Jeremiah 31, God says through his prophet that he will gather his people like a shepherd keeps his flock (31:10). God will pour out his goodness, and the people will enjoy an abundance of grain, wine, oil, flocks, and herds (material things). His people will be merry and languish no more. God’s people will be content:

“… my people will be satisfied with my goodness, declares the LORD.” (Jeremiah 31:14b ESV).

Note that the satisfaction is not in the things, but in the goodness of the LORD. They are content in the character of God from whom the blessings flow. This character, however, is not defined by the circumstances we face.

As redeemed followers of Christ, our calling is to rest in the realignment God gives to our appetites. Though one day, we will enjoy it fully, we can experience a great measure of contentment as our hearts are set on God’s goodness, and not on the things his goodness provides. In our fallen state, such contentment is impossible. But for the believer, life in Christ includes a Spirit-given contentment in the all-sufficient character of God.

The Puritan Jeremiah Burroughs explained it this way, “I find a sufficiency of satisfaction in my own heart, through the grace of Christ that is in me.” (The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment).

As we go through the day, we must watch our appetites. When we sense that we are wanting “just a little bit more,” we must flee again to God in Christ and rest in his character that fully satisfies.

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