The Balance between Contentment and Complacency

Posted: June 16, 2011 
Filed under: Deep Thoughts with Pastor Jeff, Pastor Jeff, Prayer, Spiritual
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During our staff meeting this week the pastors prayed together (as we do) and Stephen prayed something that’s stuck with me since. He asked God to help us be “content, but not complacent in our contentment.” Like so many other things in the Christian life, we depend upon balance to be in the center of God’s will. Balance requires self-control, and self-control is part of the evidential growing fruit of the Holy Spirit (see Galatians 5;22). If I practice growing in self-control it should allow me to swing away from the desires of this world enough for me to find contentment. But it shouldn’t cause me to swing so far that I become complacent. In practice, I still find my life swinging between the two ends of that chasm.

I’ve spent some time this week meditating on that prayer by Stephen and considering it as I read the apostle Paul’s call to be in “Christian training” as we head toward our intended goal of heaven. Take a moment now and read that passage in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 while considering the value of contentment balanced against complacency.

Yet, it isn’t about winning or being spiritually fit to prove to God how good I am, or how well-disciplined I am. The only way I’ll ever achieve balance is by understanding there’s no good work that emanates from me; it only originates from Christ and his work in me. I can rest in weakness because He is strong. I can be free because Jesus paid for my freedom on the cross. I can be imperfect because He is perfection on my behalf. So, first I understand my contentment isn’t a result of anything I’ve done, but a gift from a Savior who has paid everything needed to allow me to experience contentment.

However, I also realize I don’t get to sit back in that contentment and ignore what He’s called me to do. Jesus returned to heaven and called all Christians to go forward to others on His behalf (see Acts 1:7-11). Verse 8 says we’ve been given the Holy Spirit to empower us to do God’s work on this earth. He didn’t do this so we could sit back and live in some vapid contentment. I think it might be like when Deana makes me one of my favorite meals. I end up satisfied and full; and (most often) want to get up and help clear the table and clean up the leftovers. The complete satisfaction her gift of that meal leaves me with a heart of gratitude that wants to express my love by helping clean up. (Don’t get all caught up in the fact I should want to help clean up anyway. I know that. I’m talking about the motivation and desire to help.)

So, I want to live a life of contentment in Christ without being complacent. And the motivating factor is my love for Him. Love is the motivating factor that pulls the rope taunt right in the middle of the chasm between contentment and complacency. It allows me to live in both camps; experiencing both without eliminating one or the other.

Please join me in praying Pastor Stephen’s prayer. Pray that you and I will be “content, but not complacent in our contentment.”



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