Monday, January 13, 2014

Spotting Discontentment

What are the marks of Christian contentment? Expounding Phil. 4:11, Thomas Watson says this of contentment: "The doctrine of contentment is very superlative, and till we have learned this, we have not learned to be Christians."[1]

If he is right in this regard, it obviously behooves us who profess to know Christ to be able to discern contentment. So what does it look like? One good way to help us spot contentment is to spot the marks of discontentment. 

The following three marks of what is excluded by Christian contentment are suggested and shaped by Watson,[2] followed by some scriptural citations for how to battle each particular manifestation of discontentment:

First, Christian contentment excludes a frustrated fretting at our circumstances. So Scripture exhorts us to "rejoice always" (1 Thess. 5:16); to "give thanks in all circumstances" (1 Thess. 5:18); and to say with the apostle, "I can do all things through him who strengthens me" (Phil. 4:13).

Second, Christian contentment excludes an uneven disorientation of the mind amid the hot and bother of twenty-first century life. So Scripture encourages us to "set [our] minds on things above, not on the things on the earth" (Col. 3:2); and to think about "whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable," whatever is "excellent," whatever is "worthy of praise" (Phil. 4:8).

Third, Christian contentment excludes an immature hopelessness in the face of personal and corporate failures, shortcomings, and challenges. So Scripture exhorts us to "hope in God" (Ps. 42:5), to "rejoice in hope of the glory of God" (Rom. 5:2), and to "set [our] hope fully on the grace to be brought to [us] at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1 Pet. 1:13).

[1] Thomas Watson, The Art of Divine Contentment (Waxkeep Publishing, 2012), chapter 4, Kindle edition. 
[2] Watson, Ibid., chapter 6.

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