Comfort in Contentment

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From Thomas Watson’s The Art of Divine Contentment:

“It shows how a Christian may come to lead a comfortable life, even and heaven upon earth, be the times what they will—by Christian contentment. The comfort of life does not consist in having much; it is Christ’s maxim, ‘a man’s life consists not in the abundance of the things which he does possess,’ (Luke 12:15) but it is in being contented. Is not the bee as well contented with sucking from a flower—as the ox which grazes on the mountains? Contentment lies within a man, in the heart; and the way to be comfortable, is not by having our barns filled—but our minds quiet.”

Contentment lies within us, in our heart and the way to be comfortable is not in having more and more stuff, but rather to have our minds quiet, to have peace of mind.

Even if we are living in a country with much abundance, live in families that are wholly Christian, have cabinets full of food, and have healthy children, even then, we can be tempted to be more discontented that a family that is struggling financially and has a sick child. We probably have come to learn and have known these families in their struggles and quiet suffering of sickness or finances; we have seen their steadfast love and contentment in the providence of God through all the storms in life. And we have wanted that peace, but have done little or nothing to pursue that peace.

Some of us have wept for them and prayed for them, and in a lot of ways God has used these faithful servants and their witness to convict His children of their sinful discontent, leading them to conviction and repentance.

Contentment causes us great comfort, whereas discontent causes us the very opposite, great discomfort. Do we not yearn for peace of mind in a “settle heart” and “quiet mind”? Could we ever put a material price on our peace of mind? Of course not; why would we invite strife and sin? 

The Art of Divine Contentment, Thomas Watson: “Contentment is as necessary to keep the life comfortable, as oil is necessary to keep the lamp burning. The clouds of discontent often drop the showers of tears.

“Would we have comfort in our lives? We may have it if we will. A Christian may carve out whatever condition he will to himself. Why do you complain of your troubles? it is not trouble which troubles—but discontentment. It is not outward affliction which can make the life of a Christian sad; a contented mind would sail above these waters—but when discontent gets into the heart, then it is disquieted and sinks”

Yet we find that so many Christian wives tend to trade contentment for discontentment over and over again. There may be babies crying, the house may need cleaned and dinners need planned and cooked, but instead she chooses to dwell on what she does not have and to focus on what she feels she deserves, but does not possess. She has paralyzed herself from enjoying and being productive in her day. She pushes aside her blessings and desires for what is not hers, which is debilitating discontent that makes young mothers and wives miserable. 

Why do they choose this? Because their hearts are not settled, and their minds have not been quieted. They reject comfort, their contentment is not found in the perfect providence of God. They search for contentment in things, materialism, and people. She finds no comfort. Over and over, new things and experiences yield no comfort. Her discontentment has turned her blessings into curses for her. She thinks that if she has more, then she can appreciate what she already has. But in her great discomfort, she causes misery to her family and household. Her husband often tries to fill the discontentment in his wife; when he does this, the fire of discontent does not wane, but intensifies. There are no amount things that will quell her discontent.

The imagery that Watson uses explains it well; he writes, “it is not trouble which troubles—but discontentment. It is not outward affliction which can make the life of a Christian sad; a contented mind would sail above these waters—but when discontent gets into the heart, then it is disquieted and sinks.”

Discontent will sink us; it will take us down. And we know this is true. It is not our outward troubles that cause us trouble but the discontent that is within. 

“But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction” (1 Tim. 6:8-9).

Temptation to discontent is a snare, but contentment is a sweet, soft, and safe place; it is a place of peace and contentment. There is no comparison between the two. Peace is more desirable to a child of God than a discontented snare.

As Christians, God tells us in His Word that all we have to do is ask for wisdom and He will abundantly give it to us. That is where we need to go for the wisdom to avoid the snares: setting our face and heart as flint, to God’s Word, living in contentment and resting in Him, learning more and more to reject the discomfort and snare of discontentment. 

Things to ponder

  1. Get you Bible 
  2. Read free, this book ‘The Art of Divine Contentment” https://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/sdg/watson/The%20Art%20of%20Divine%20Contentment%20-%20Thomas%20Watson.pdf
  3. If you desire a quiet mind and a settled heart, look to Christ and seek your comfort only in Him. 

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