Contentment is based on the fear of the Lord. Proverb 19:23 “The fear of the Lord tendeth to life: and he that has it shall abide satisfied; he shall not be visited with evil” (KJV) whereas the (NLT) version states “Fear of the Lord leads to life bringing security and protection from harm” It is thus clear that the secret of contentment lies in having to bear good and bad situations without being overjoyous during good times, or despondent because of bad times in life. To my mind, contentment is an equalizer to the swinging pendulum of life. It allows humanity to focus on valuable ends rather than sulking, withdrawing from reality and allowing fear to dominate ones life.
A contented man is not he who is completely enjoying without facing any odds in life. The focus of a true believer in Christ is in that man or woman of faith who exercises his faith in Christ as his or her redeemer. Nobody can claim to be sinless for the bible tells us “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God”Roman 3:23 (NKJV) In Deuteronomy 8:18, it is written “And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth….” The high point here is the important situation of obeying the will of God whether favorable or not. When one has developed total dependence on God through Christ, it will be easy to find contentment or solace in HIM . God will not abandon anyone who honors Him, no matter what.
A believer who sins will always be forgiven if he or she would penitently ask for forgiveness. Without self-conceit one is free to ask for forgiveness and to be re-enabled to endure trying moments. A wealthy man with contentment will understand that it was God that gave him the wherewithal to make wealth. If he realizes this fact, he should be prepared to listen to the petition of his employee and put things right if he is guiltless. The petition of the employee or subordinate should not be considered as insult, rather the matter must be investigated or analysed to see the reason why matters went that way. He would never contemplate usurping other people’s property or right. In sickness and in good health, and in life’s vicissitudes, he would praise God. The bible taught us to pray without ceasing, more so in times of intimidation, oppression, backbiting and many more to be able to maintain our equanimity or contentment.
God changes not and Jesus is there to intercede for all especially for those who love the Lord. In Philippians 4: 11-12, Paul gave his recipe for contentment thus, “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learnt both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” Paul topped the thought on contentment that saw him surviving in spite all the sufferings that he went through “Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into foolish and harmful lust which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” 1Timothy 6: 6-10 (NKJV)
A result oriented entrepreneur, business executive, a believer, student studying for academic laurel, parenting couple, and many more need to have a living hope until the set goals and objectives are achieved. We are still on the subject of HOPE as an anchor of our soul if kept undying or alive. All boils down to achieving our goals if we can steadfastly stick the relevant road map with God being the beacon whatever be the ups and downs along the route. Living hope is a recurring impetus to forge ahead, knowing that God is faithful to see us through. Any one with weak or false hope is most likely going to end up being a quitter.
As in Hebrew 6: 19-20, it says, “But beloved, we are confident for better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in his manner. For God is not unjust to forget your labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to his saints, and do minister. And that we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” (NKJV). The relevant application of this passage is that we know as Christian believers that Jesus is interceding for us before God. Jesus told his followers that they should feel free to ask for any need of theirs through and will be granted to them.
Christians have a living hope that makes their ultimate possible by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Believers are looking forward to their salvation or as it is pleasantly expressed “Where will you spend your eternity-Heaven or Hell?” They tend to determinedly work towards it in the hope that the death and resurrection of Jesus has cleared the road to salvation. Christians are training and developing themselves and others to ensure their eternal salvation. It is this living HOPE that kept Apostle Paul going in spite of the suffering he went through throughout his missionary journeys. Let us consider the beating and imprisonment he endured. He and Silas were beaten severely and kept in prison under maximum security. Following the expression of the living hope in them, they both held vigil where they sang praises and prayed God loudly.The Almighty God showed forth His acceptance of the worship and responded with an earthquake that broke the stocks on them and yet they refused to escape from custody, Act 16: 18-28.
Hope is always the force behind endurance and perseverance as recorded in Thessalonians 1:3 “AS we pray to our God and Father about you, we think of your faithful work your loving deeds, and the enduring hope you have because of our Lord Jesus Christ, (NLT).
In my opinion concerning “hanging around with sinners” cannot be taken on its face value without examining the pros and cons. There are arguments for and against. I read about it from Notforthenorms by Nicholas Brown and found the post very interesting. it made me look closer than just being perfunctory about this fundamental christian practice. i asked myself these questions. Should a Christian associate with a sinner? Who is a sinner? Is a Christian saying he is alien to sin or iniquity? Is the Christian above sin? If he is not, should he desist from interacting with other Christian sinners? Many of this type of questions made me look at the topic from the stand I took.
To my mind, criticising or complaining about Christians who hang around with sinners of whatever shape or form cannot be totally wrong because the devil has its subtle ways of beguiling would-be victims. Should we forget peer group influence? Show me your friend and I’ll know who you are. How deep-rooted that he could not be surreptitiously lured out of Christian ideals. If his faith is so tap-rooted as to be able to withstand external negative influence, great, he will be more likely to exert his own influence on the sinner; otherwise the Christian may become another Apostle Paul’s Hymenaus and Alexander IITimothy 1:20 The parable of the Ten Virgins illustrate how A christian can still hang aound sinners and yet not get defiled. The wise five had extra oil but the foolish five did not. The oil representsanointing that the Christian should carry. It has to be constantly renewed. This sort of explains the rise and fall of men and women of God. A Christian must always be on guard irrespective of people you move with.
Besides, scientists have affirmed that non-smokers that are exposed to smokers’ exhaled fume are likely to remotely get affected as if they were smokers. The sheep is humane, docile and herbivorous while the dog is canine, carnivorous and always barking. By words of elders in certain traditional society, it is said that the sheep that hangs around with the dog shall in time learn to bark and eat what the dog eats. Agreed that Jesus gave an excellent example of interacting with sinners in Matthews 9: 9-13; but then who among us in these days is as holy, charismatic and authoritative as our Lord Jesus Christ. I believe the intrinsic meaning of ‘Hanging around with’ goes beyond a devout Christian interacting for the fun of it, rather it has to be for the purpose of exerting Christian ideals on the sinner. This should not be taken to mean that Christians should not have interaction with sinners. The question centers around the Christian’s strength of character not to yield to the ways of sinners while he continues to pursue the help he is to render with prayers and supplications as well as his own exemplary life of faith in God that must speak louder than hard-core teaching of Christian doctrine to the sinner.
A focused Christian, as a non-pliable believer, should be best suited for hanging around with sinners with a view of spreading the gospel and in compliance with Jesus’ mandate to the disciples in Mark 16: 15-16 that states…….”Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved ; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (NKJ).
Weak faith or outright unfaithfulness or total rejection of faith (God) is opposed to God’s love which He freely gives to mankind. In the Old Testament, kings as leaders except for few like Like David, Josiah, Hezekiah, and Solomon (early in his reign) all led Jews away from God. The decadence began from the Northern Kingdom and led to their punitive stay in exile. Prophet Amos from the Southern Kingdom of Judah and Jerusalem was God-sent to warn them against the coming judgement. It soon spread to Judah that also went into exile.
In the New Testament, we read “Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters, make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning away from the living God” Hebrew 3: 12 (NKJV). Apostle Paul in his zeal for God clearly identified those who became apostate by repudiating God. They are: Demas in llTimothy 4: 10; Hymenaus and Alexander were also cited in lTimothy 1:20. It is believed as written that they veered off the course of faith they so much professed because of the very cruel and intimidating persecution that beset the disciples from the Jews at home and abroad in Matthew 11: 6; Luke 8: 13. Mountains in the life of believers, God has always turned them to testimonies. Be strong in the Lord in all circumstances for the sake of eternity.
Life of Apostle Paul gave us an insight into how God extends his love to cover even the wicked ones. Paul, as Saul, had one sterling quality of intense dedication to duty. Man sees only the face but God sees the heart or that which is intrinsic and can always tap on man’s hidden resources to edify HIS holy name. In his fervor at rounding up Jesus’ disciples for imprisonment. Paul received High Priest’s mandate to hunt down Jesus’ disciples with their so-called “new doctrine”. It was on his way to Damascus that he met the risen Christ who commissioned him – Saul – (later Paul) and literally enlisted him as soldier in the gospel army. Acts 9: 1-16
Through thick and thin, pain and pang, along with trial and tribulation, his tenacious faith in Christ Jesus saw him through all the fall out arising from his missionary journeys among Jews and gentiles. He expectantly rose to the rank of “five-star general” meaning, he ran the gospel race to win the crown of glory.
A deserter in any national Armed Forces that are justly defending the territorial integrity of his country is anti-Paul the Apostle. A quitter in any tough assignment is apparently a total failure, God has a sacred duty to bless us but it is our duty to use our talent responsibly to his honor and glory. Apostle Paul really did.