The holiday season is a yearly reminder to be thankful for the blessings we so often take for granted—our warm homes, loving families, food in abundance. Being content with our physical blessings is a worthwhile cause—1 Tim. 6:8reminds us to be content with our possessions: “But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.” Is spiritual contentment the same?
What are your spiritual weaknesses? I could make a long, long list of things that I don’t like about myself, and sometimes my doubts are overwhelming. It’s easy to dwell on my failures and inabilities and come up feeling inadequate and discontent, and maybe you feel the same way.
On the other hand, I spend a majority of my time on a college campus that effectively surrounds me with people of the world. I usually feel okay about myself and comfortable in my faith. I find it far too easy to compare myself to those in the world and feel better about my spiritual health. Even if I don’t always articulate my thoughts, I know that I strive for purity and don’t participate in the bad language, lying, partying, etc. that many of my peers do—so I’m okay, right?
Neither of these two perspectives is beneficial or Biblical. Consider these two thoughts to find the balance between contentment and complacency:
1. You are fallible.
First-century Christians had problems with complacency just like we do; Paul warned them, “let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor. 10:12). Paul warns us to examine ourselves to make sure we are in the faith (2 Cor. 13:5). If we start believing that we are spiritually strong, we won’t be on guard for temptations, and sin can creep in quietly.
Here’s the solution: don’t stop trying. Even Paul admitted that he had to keep working. He said that the way he pushed himself forward was “forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead” (Phil. 3:13). Just like me and just like you, Paul had failed. Paul’s past was marred with the horrible mistakes of neglecting God and persecuting the church, and even after he became a Christian, he sinned. But he didn’t stop—he pressed on “toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14).
2. You are complete in Him.
If you are in Christ, you are complete. Paul writes that we have been “filled in Him” (Col. 2:10)—you can be content because you don’t have to be “good enough.” Christ already paid the price for you. You have a role in the Lord’s Kingdom, even if you feel inadequate to fulfill it.
Here is the truth: the church needs you. The church needs servants, teachers, comforters, givers, leaders. When speaking of the church, Paul said, “On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable” (1 Cor. 12:22). Paul didn’t just say that the “weaker” parts of the body are useful—he said they are necessary. Whether or not you perceive your role to be small, the abilities that you have can be used to glorify God.
In your spiritual life, try to find the balance between contentment and complacency. Don’t allow complacency to hold you back from spiritual growth—keep working hard to grow closer to Christ and to lead souls to Him. But when you feel inadequate to conquer the spiritual task before you, remember that you are whole in Christ, and you can be content knowing that your efforts are absolutely worthwhile.