Most of the people you counsel or disciple will struggle with the sin of discontentment in some aspect of life. My goal today is to give three key truths to help counsel someone struggling with putting on contentment and putting off discontent.
How do we fight to put on contentment and put off discontentment? We fight to grow in contentment, and kill discontent, by knowing and trusting that God is sovereignly working what is best, right, and good in our life because He is perfect in wisdom, knowledge, goodness, and love.
1. Trust God is always in control of what is happening in life because He is sovereign.
When we say God is sovereign, we mean that God is exercising rule over His creation, including people, to bring about His desired end and to fulfill His purposes. When someone is discontent with their marital situation, job, and family situation, God is sovereign over those circumstances.
When a person feels like they have no control in these situations, they need to find peace knowing God is in complete control. When someone feels stuck and powerless, God is powerful and is doing everything He wants, when He wants, how He wants. God is fully in control of every detail and is working in our lives. Peace and hope is found knowing that people are not in control, but God is always in control and is always working in and through our lives. While a person needs to act responsibly, they are not ultimately in control; God is in control and will change a person’s circumstances or keep them the same as He determines best.
This news by itself may not be especially helpful though. God’s sovereignty is only good news in light of God’s good character, which the next two points address. Helpful texts for meditating on God’s providence are Ephesians 1:11-12; Psalm 115:3; Lamentations 3:37-38; Daniel 4:34-35; and Matthew 19:26.
Before moving on, I need to state a caveat. My comments thus far haven’t addressed how God’s sovereignty works with the will of people and the choices they make. They also have not addressed evil and suffering and how that relates to contentment. I don’t have space to address these nuanced topics here, except to say when teaching about sovereignty, we must affirm God is sovereign over suffering and evil in a different way than He is sovereign over that which is good and right. God never takes pleasure in or affirms evil (Ezekiel 33:11). We also should not blame God for evil (Genesis 50:20) because people make real choices and are held accountable for those choices. God is working to redeem and bring good from suffering and evil as Romans 8 shows. The stories of Jesus (see Acts 4:27-28), Job, and Joseph (Genesis 50:20) all demonstrate this truth as well. For now we have to simply say God can be trusted when we are suffering and others have done evil to us. For further help in addressing this issue a helpful resource is Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology, Chapter 16.
2. Trust God is always doing what is best because He is perfect in wisdom and knowledge.
When we say God is perfect in knowledge, what we mean is God fully knows Himself and all things actual and possible. When we say God is perfect in wisdom, what we mean is God always chooses the best goals and best means to accomplish those goals (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology). God’s sovereignty is always working out what is best for a person because He has all wisdom and knows all things.
Simply put, God is smarter than us.
He knows what He is doing. His sovereign working in the world is based on His knowing way more than we do (infinitely more) and has way more wisdom than we have (again, infinitely more). Discontent is often fueled by the fact that a person does not have something they want or that they have something they don’t want. Contentment grows when we realize we don’t know as much as God and are not as wise as God. He knows best and is doing what is best, even if we don’t like our circumstances. Texts for reflection on God’s knowledge include Psalm 139; Isaiah 44:7-8; Hebrews 4:13; and Genesis 45:8. Texts for reflection on God’s wisdom include Job 12:13; Psalm 104:24; and Romans 11:33.
3. Trust God is always doing what is right for you because He is good and loving.
Not only is God in control and perfect in His knowledge and wisdom, God is good and all He does is good and worthy of approval. When we are discontent because we feel like there is something better in this world than what we have, we are essentially saying that God is withholding good from us. The reality though is that God always does what is right and good because He is good and all He does is good. His goodness is infinitely greater than our goodness. While we think we know what is good for ourselves, God’s plan is the one with the most good.
God isn’t just good, though. His full goodness is paired with full love. This means that a person can trust God is always wielding His control and sovereignty in full knowledge and goodness with love for them. God loves us. The Father loved us enough to send His own Son to the cross. The Son loved us so much He willingly endured the cross to save us. If a person has placed their faith in Christ then they are forgiven for all sin and now have the righteousness of Christ. This means God will never treat a person how they deserve, instead He treats them as Christ deserves to be treated. To be loved by God means God is completely for you. The same love and favor the Father has for Christ is the love and favor the Father has for you.
If we have faith that God loved us enough to do this, then we should have faith that God also is acting in love for us in all the smaller and less significant details of life! God is in control, always doing what’s best for us, because He has complete knowledge, wisdom, goodness, and love. We should take comfort and grow in contentment knowing that God is always working in our lives to give us certain things and keep us from certain things because He is good and loves us. We should also grow in contentment by remembering how God has already worked for our good by giving and withholding things from us in the past. He’s done what was best for us in the past, is doing what’s best for us now, and will do what is best for us in the future. Texts for reflection on God’s goodness are Exodus 34:6-8; 1 Corinthians 1:9; Psalm 106:1; Psalm 119:68; and Psalm 84:11. Texts for reflection on God’s love are 1 John 4:8-10; Lamentations 3:22; Psalm 118; Psalm 103:8-14; 2 Corinthians 1:3; 1 Peter 5:10; and Romans 5:20.
Fighting Against Discontentment
We should boldly and confidently fight against the sin of discontentment. God will help us to kill discontent and grow in contentment. Use these three key truths to fight against whatever lies you are thinking and feeling. Remember and trust that God is sovereignly working what is best, right, and good in our life because He is perfect in wisdom, knowledge, goodness, and love.
Join the Conversation
What truths and strategies have helped you or your counselees to put on contentment and put off discontentment?