Saturday, May 30, 2009

Twelve Characteristics of a Contented Life

"But Godliness with contentment is great gain."
I Timothy 6:6 (NIV)

Today we continue our exploration of the
Twelve Characteristics of a Contented Life.
This is Week 4 and we will look at Characteristic 4:
Please the Lord and don't worry about your critics.

"You can't please everybody. Don't let criticism worry you."

In 1972, Ricky Nelson learned a hard lesson at Madison Square Garden in New York City. When booed off-stage during a concert, he retreated and did not return to the stage that evening, not even for the final bow. After that experience, he wrote the hit song "Garden Party" which includes these lyrics, "...but it's alright now, I've learned my lesson well. You see, you can't please everyone, so you've got to please yourself..."

Mr. Nelson had it half right. You will never be able to please everyone around you. And, most likely, you'll never be able to please yourself, either.

With that in mind, it seems we're left in a conundrum, doesn't it? If I can't please those around me, and I can't please myself, how am I to live a contented life? Paul says in his letter to the Galatian church in chapter 1, verse 10, "Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ."

I don't know about you, but that makes it pretty clear to me. If I am to please God, I CANNOT please men...and dear sisters, we are 'men' because we are of the brotherhood of mankind. So, that means we can't please ourselves either!

It would be so easy to fall into the trap of self-satisfaction. Isn't that the very thing the world around us cries out for every day and in every way? If you're not happy with your spouse, move on and find another. If you're unhappy that you're pregnant, murder your unborn child and move on. If you've borrowed more than you can pay back, just claim bankruptcy and move on.

DON'T WORRY, BE HAPPY! It 's the motto of our modern-day world. Don't let little things like morals and ethics get in your way. Just do what feels right to you. "If it feels good, do it" seems to be the mantra of modern man. Society seems to have completely forsaken the ideas of concrete 'right' and 'wrong'. There are no absolutes, only shades of gray.

Yet God gives us clear direction in the book of Isaiah, chapter 55, verses 7-9, where it says, "Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."

So, we can't please ourselves and we can't please others; we are to please God. What pleases God? Romans 12:1 says "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual (or reasonable) act of worship." When we present ourselves as 'living sacrifices', it simply means we submit ourselves - mind, body and spirit - to the Lord to be used of and by Him in whatever way pleases Him.

Sometimes, that's easy; sometimes not. Don't you find it easy to love your children, your spouse, your family members? I know, I know, on some days even that's difficult! Seriously though, isn't that one pretty easy for you? What about loving the murderer or rapist that sits in jail, or the adulterous woman who has been making herself 'obvious' to your husband? Loving those people is no longer so easy, is it? Yet, if we are to please God, we must love those people because He loves them. We don't have to love their ways, but we MUST love them.

In I Timothy 2: 1-4, Paul tellsTimothy "I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth."

If we are to live pleasing to God, we must pray for those in positions of authority over us and live peaceful and quiet lives. Praying for those in authority refers to ALL in authority, from your spouse (if you are a woman---I'm sorry girls, but it's Scriptural even if it's not currently popular!) to your boss at your job to the President or any other governmental authority.

You don't have to like them or agree with them, but you MUST pray for them. Authority can only be imbued upon one by the Creator of all. Therefore, we owe the Creator our sacrifice of prayer for those whom He has placed in authority. According to the verses quoted above, we cannot live a peaceable and quiet life unless we do this. And, we cannot please God unless we live a peaceable and quiet life.

Obviously the Scriptures are filled with many, many things that please the Lord. I could write for days and days and not even scratch the surface. It is my belief that, if we apply the verses quoted above to our everyday life, we can be well on our way to pleasing God and living a contented life.

"You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;

you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;

a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. "

Psalms 51: 16-17

(All Scripture references are quoted from the NIV unless otherwise noted.)


Grandma Elsie said...

Great instructions Diane,
I must remember it well.
I am on my way to a Christian Women's Tea at 10 this morning.Wish you were here.
Then a church supper at 3 so busy day for me , thank you Lord.
have a blessed week end and hope you are busy.
Love & prayers
Elsie <><

Constance said...

Living the unselfish life is SO incredibly hard!! No one will ever convince me that being a Christian is for sissies and the weak! It's the hardest thing to do because it flies in the face of our natural, carnal tendencies!

I definitely struggle with this area of loving the unlovable. It's even more difficult when they are in your own family! I have had to set boundaries with this person and yet, everything this person says and does, gets under my skin! I am amazed that people can live such self-centered, self-absorbed lives and be so oblivious to it! They just continue on believing that everyone owes them and that they deserve special treatment. ARG!!!!

"I can't get no
Hey, hey hey
That's what I say!
No satisfaction"...

The Raggedy Girl said...

This is such a nice series and I really liked this one.

The Raggedy Girl

Trudy said...

I canno tell you how much thiss blog means to me since I found it from Busy Grandma Elsie. My husband and I have just started a Bible study with a young couple up the street who are not quite ready to go to a church yet, but hunger and thirst for the Word. I copied and pasted some of the Scriptures you used today to use when we see them next week.

Each line I read today made me want to say, "Preach it, Sister!!"

Denise said...

I've had so much less drama in my life since I gave up trying to please others. I have many selfish people in my life & while it is hard, I am feeling more contented in our relationships since I gave up trying to change them & instead starting simply praying for their salvation.

Thanks for posting these Diane, I'm really enjoying your topics each week.

Samantha said...

I have so enjoyed these posts, each one touches my heart and are words I need to hear in my daily walk to be closer to Christ.
Thanks so much Diane, for blessing me today !!
Love you dearly !

Kathy P said...

I absolutely love that picture of the little girl!!! Do you know anything about it? title? Artist?

Loved the story about Ricky Nelson too...

This is great stuff Diane, you are blessing so many lives!

Trish said...

Di...I have learned the hard way that you can't please everyone. Sometimes, I still struggle with it. BUT, have finally let go of certain things. And if some people in my life don't understand..I realize that my life is not defined by pleasing is defined by what I do and have done for the Lord.
I'm enjoying these posts sweet friend!

Keetha Broyles said...

I "tagged" you in my blog post today - - -