A Life Management of the Heart
I’ve made a life-long study of time and life management. The reason this subject became so interesting to me is because the first 30 years of my life, and early stages of my marriage, were characterized by miss-management, lack of direction, and frenzied frustration.
But, believe it or not this preliminary discussion will include nothing about day-planners or to-do lists. Surprised? No. I’ll be addressing a matter of the heart that I discovered had a great impact on the way I prioritized the daily tasks in my life — contentment. Why go over this deeper issue first? Because the first thing we must manage in life is our heart. And, I have found that…
As contentment (or discontentment) rules our heart, there lie our priorities too.
While not always, discontentment guides a lot of the activity and busyness in our lives. We are often working more, spending more, scheduling our kids for more, and pressuring others for more because of an insecurity or feeling of lack in our life. To better asses the necessary vs. unnecessary activities in our lives then we must look at what is driving our hearts.
There’s no doubt that contentment is a real tough issue for women. But the Word of God calls us as women who desire to live each and every day with passion and purpose to be content. Paul, the man of God who tells us that “godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6,8) also gives us these instructions on contentment from his own life:
“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 learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” (Philippians 4:11-12)
Contentment is a pearl of great price…and an all-but extinct virtue. Contentment is also the greatest blessing you and I can enjoy in this world. But, as playwright George Chapman comments, “God hath made none contented.” This means, dear one, that we’ve got to do as the apostle Paul encourages us:
Contentment is learned
Twice the great and mighty Paul says he learned to be content! This gives us hope and encouragement. Contentment is not something that comes automatically with salvation. And contentment is not a fruit of the Spirit which we enjoy when we are walking in the Spirit. No, contentment is learned!
Contentment is not based on circumstances, but on the person of Christ
You and I possess all the true riches of heaven, both here on earth, and held in trust for us in heaven to come. In God, precious one, you and I have all that we need both now and forever:
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” (Ephesians 1:3)
“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)
As a popular song reminds us about God…
“All of you is more than enough for all of me
For every thirst and every need
You satisfy me with your love
And all I have in you is more than enough.”
We have the hope of eternal life… no matter what is currently going on in our life. Life is tribulation (John 16:33). But we can have peace of mind and contentment of soul in the midst of our present circumstances.
Contentment is required whether you have little or much — Does this sound strange? I mean, wouldn’t you think that having much would cause you to be content? Well, the answer is no. In fact, having much can breed a strong desire and lust to have even more.
Or do you ever erroneously think, “If I just had a little more, I’d be content?” It just isn’t true! One secret to contentment is found in Proverbs 30:7-9:
“Two things I ask of you, Lord; do not refuse me before I die: …Give me neither poverty nor riches — but, give me only my daily bread. Otherwise I may have too much and disown you, and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and dishonor the name of my God.”
Whenever I speak to women on contentment, I try to allow time to read this “just-enough poem,” which makes a great prayer. Note that the ingredients in this recipe call for just “enough.”
A Recipe for Contentment by Goethe
Health enough to make work a pleasure;
Wealth enough to support your needs;
Strength enough to battle with difficulties and forsake them;
Grace enough to confess your sins and overcome them;
Patience enough to toil until some good is accomplished;
Charity enough to see some good in your neighbor;
Love enough to move you to be useful and helpful to others;
Faith enough to make real the things of God;
Hope enough to remove all anxious fears concerning the future.
Contentment should guide our actions
And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work (2 Corinthians 9:8).
In this very verse God tells us where our priorities should fall. He tells us also what our schedules should be full of — His every good work. In our busyness, we should be about the Lords business because we know He will provide for our every need. Therefore, we don’t have to scramble around filling our every insecurity or discontent.
This is quite a list of truths, isn’t it? Would those who know you best think of you as a contented woman? Would other say that your countenance radiates a spirit that is undisturbed? A spirit that is untroubled by the wants and needs of life? A spirit that is pleased with what it does have as well as what it doesn’t have?
Or are you one who might be described as having a “murmuring spirit?” A spirit that is rarely satisfied, rarely at rest, rarely content in the Lord and in His provision? Think about it. And be honest, because your approach to your daily life will be determined by your level of contentment…which is determined by your trust in God. To live each day with passion and purpose, you simply cannot be bothered by the things of this world. There just isn’t enough time or energy in a day for you to waste even a second or a thought — let alone your emotions—on even one discontented thought.
Meet someone who was truly content — Are you ready to meet one of my favorite women in the Bible? I wish I could tell you her name, but she is nameless. We know her simply as “the Shunammite woman.” She provides us with a wonderful picture of what contentment looks like, forever framed in 2 Kings 4:8-17. The Shunammite woman, a warm, caring, and generous person, was used by God to provide room and board for His prophet Elisha. She was married but had no children.
When Elisha asked this “great” woman (KJV) what he could do for her to repay her many kindnesses to him and his servant, the noble Shunammite woman answered with words to this effect, “Why, nothing! I’m perfectly content. Nothing about my life disturbs me. I live with my own people. What more could I possibly want or need?”
That’s it, precious one. She “got it” … and may you and I do the same. May we mirror this dear woman’s sweet heart of contentment. And may we seek to spend our days doing as Paul did—learning to be content in any and all circumstances. Then, perhaps by God’s good grace we can be busy with the Lord’s business, and relish the abundance of joy He provides!