The Learned Art of Contentment

Confession time...

I'm not a fan of King Solomon.  There.  I said it. (...but stick around... it "might" get better!)

I've been reading through 1 Kings and 2 Chronicles in my beloved Chronological Bible again this morning, about Solomon's great weath and wisdom.  But OH. MY. GOODNESS... Am I the only one who has had a hard time going through these pages?  Maybe because I know of his "faults" later in his life.  AND... because it seemed so extreme!  Such riches and weath... in extreme abundance.  
Unlimited amounts of pure gold, cedar wood, imported horses, textiles, spices... oh my!

I can't relate...

But it does remind me that despite King Solomon's possessions and God-given wisdom, a person can still fall and fail.  He was the one who pleased the Lord with the ONE request asked of Him.  When God asked Solomon to choose ONE thing, ONE wish, ONE request, Solomon said "Give me an understanding heart, so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong." 1 Kings 3:9.  In 2 Chronicles 1:10, it says, "Give me the wisdom and knowledge to lead them properly."  Wow!  And if you don't know the rest of the story, God not only grants Solomon's request for godly wisdom, but Solomon is also given great weath! In 1 Kings 3:13, God tells Solomon, "I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that no other king shall compare with you, all your days."  

I wonder when Solomon's riches and weath became "too much".  
I wonder when Solomon learned that having everything WASN'T everything.
And I wonder why I can learn SO MUCH from Solomon on this one.

I have "too much".  I don't have what Solomon had.  And I don't have what others close to me might have.  But my own fault is looking to the right and to the left and realizing that I have not yet master the art of contentment.  

During the Thanksgiving season, we are all encouraged to "give thanks", "be thankful", "count your blessings", and express gratitude towards the ones we love.  This exercise brings me to the realization, every year, that I am blessed.  I am truly blessed.  And I'm sure you feel the same way.  Right?  Who wouldn't start to feel thankful when listing their blessings?  BUT... what about the reality of loss, lack of health, failed marriages, broken hearts, distant relationships, lack of world peace and threat of radical groups toward our nation?  What does contentment look like?  

You probably already know that King Solomon is responsible for the "wisdom" books of the Bible, more specifically, the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes.  But, did you know that he also wrote a couple of the Psalms?  He wrote the famous Psalm 127:
"Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.
It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, 
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives to his beloved sleep." vs 1-2

In Solomon's God-given wisdom, he reminds me that it's not UP TO ME.  
It's ALL in God's perfect timing, plans, and hands.
He is in control.  I'm not.
He knows the future.  I don't.

The apostle Paul also experienced "abundance and need".  Joel recently preached on this... In Philippians 4, Paul tells us that contentment is a LEARNED mindset.  Paul says in verse 11, "...I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content."  Really?  Really, Paul?  Easier said than done!  But if you keep reading this passage... Verse 12, "I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound.  In any and every circumstance, I have LEARNED the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.  I can do all things through him who strengthens me."  

There it is!!!  The "secret" of contentment is to put our trust in Him, through WHOM we can do all things!  Contentment is not of our own self.  It comes from God.  Jesus Christ is the SOURCE of our contentment.  King Solomon spoke of this in his Psalm, and the apostle Paul confirms the same TRUTH.  

Outside of a relationship with Jesus, I CANNOT be content or satisfied.  Especially if I base contetment or happiness on the things of this world.  

What are we putting our satisfaction and joy in?  
Who are we working so hard for?
Are the things we are thankful for based on current circumstances?
Does the state of our heart and mind depend on just the blessings we experience?

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!