Contentment, Mental Illness and the Bible
1. Contentment is a cardinal and central teaching of Christ.
2. We are commanded to be content, regardless of the life situation we find ourselves in.
3. When we lack contentment, we become anxious and depressed.
4. "Without trying to answer this question here, let me emphasize only that investing hope in religious faith is perhaps one of the best psychological investments a person can make. This is because by investing a small amount of hope in religion—especially in the Christian religions, which promise lavish gratifications and rewards of all sorts—one gets back a great deal. Few other enterprises, other than fanatical nationalisms, promise as much. The rate of return on hope invested in religion is thus much higher than on hope invested in, say, rational work-a-day pursuits. Hence, those with small capitals of hope may do best by investing their "savings" in religion. And this indeed is what they often do." (The Myth of Mental Illness, Thomas Szasz, Atheist, 1961 AD, p255)
A. Contentment and the Bible:
1. "Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." Hebrews 12:1-3
a. The Hebrews 12 passage merely illustrates the selfless attitude we need to have.
b. Notice that Jesus was attacked, beaten, slandered, disrespected and shamed, but in spite of this was a man of joy! Notice the text, it tells us that!
c. How could Jesus have joy when everything about his physical life was going bad? He saw the future end of what he was going to accomplish.
d. Likewise when a Christian today has everything in his life fall apart and go wrong, there is absolutely no excuse for him to be robbed of his joy.
2. The vine and branches illustration shows that 100% of the good nutrients we need for life, happiness and joy, come from Christ. The Christian understands that nothing on earth matters except the connection of the branch to the vine of Christ. Keeping faith in Christ is the important thing even when everything about your life is going wrong from a worldly point of view.
3. "Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." Philippians 4:11-13.
4. "Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:10.
5. "If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction." 1 Timothy 6:8-9.
6. "Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, "I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,"" Hebrews 13:5
7. "But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, "Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me." But the Lord answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her."" Luke 10:40-42
8. "For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? "Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? "And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? "And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. "But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! "Do not worry then, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will we wear for clothing?' "For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. "So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:25-34
1. Christians must find the kind of contentment that Jesus Christ and the Apostle Paul experienced.
2. When are not content with our life situation, we sin further by choosing to become anxious and depressed.
3. Anxiety and depression are sinful behaviour choices that result from a lack of contentment.
By Steve Rudd: Contact the author for comments, input or corrections.
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