Our Bible verse for today: “But godliness with contentment is great gain.” 1 Thessalonians 6:6 (CSB)
Our thought for today: “Learn to be content”
In yesterday’s devotional I wrote of how it is that God calls most of us to live simple lives that honor Him and bless others. That reminded me of our Bible verse for today, 1 Thessalonians 6:6, and of a powerful and important lesson God taught me about learning to be content.
I learned how to be a Pastor in the high-octane Christian environment of Southern California in the 1990s. It was a time of hipster pastors, mega-churches, highly choreographed praise music, and stadium crusades. The emphasis was on big numbers – in attendance, in giving, and especially in baptisms. As Pastors we were taught that was what we needed to aspire to, and the success of our church would be measured by those numbers. It was a high-pressure church life that was never quite good enough no matter what your numbers were. But in my heart, I wanted something different. I wanted all the pressure to be gone and I wanted to be content with my ministry.
Many years after that God led me to be the Pastor of Oak Hill Baptist Church in Crossville, TN. It’s nothing like that Southern California scene. Crossville is a small town in rural Tennessee. Oak Hill Baptist is a small church on the boundary line between city limits and the country. We are a small congregation of simple people and to me, it is heaven.
A year or two after I came to Oak Hill, I was in small country store with some church members and I saw a picture of a little white country church, at night, in a snowy scene, with lights on in the church, and some horses tied up in front of it. It was a peaceful and beautiful scene of a simple church in a small setting. I loved that picture and I said so to the friends who were with me. Much to my surprise, a few days after that, when I came into my church office that framed picture was sitting on my desk waiting for me as a gift from those friends.
That was probably ten years ago and that picture has been sitting right there on my desk ever since, and it is a powerful reminder to me of how nice the simple life can be – especially simple church life.
Contentment is one of the greatest feelings we can have. It’s an emotional state of calm and a quiet satisfaction with your situation in life. It creates a sense of happiness which, rather than being euphoric and giddy, is settled and relaxed. Paul teaches us in 1 Thessalonians 6:6 that if you have a sense of contentment, and if it comes to you as a result of a deep and rich relationship with God, you have truly gained something precious and of real value.
One of the most important and meaningful turning points in life is when we have learned to be content. We’ll think more about this tomorrow.