Atrocity. Despair. Devastation.
It’s easy to be overcome by the evil in the world. News of tragedy often assaults us from every angle these days, since many of us have multiple devices to bring it to our attention.
I was sitting in Bible class this past Sunday morning and we were discussing contentment, specifically the true context and meaning of the word in Scripture. One thing we considered was how Biblical contentment doesn’t mean just pushing the sin others under the rug and being happy to ignore their lost status as long as their actions do not directly affect us. It also doesn’t mean ignoring atrocities and pretending they don’t happen.
At the same time, contentment is a clear expectation for Christians. How can we balance contentment with our need to stand against the injustices in this world?
I’ve thought about this long and hard over the past few hours, and I keep going back to I Timothy 6:7:
For godliness with contentment is great gain
The preceding verses amaze me:
If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself
Are we not sometimes obsessed with disputes and arguments over words? Check your newsfeed, people. Envy, strife, evil suspiscions, evil wranglings? It’s all there. And the Bible doesn’t say follow it and read it every single day to keep up with the mayhem. It says “From such withdraw yourself.”
Like some of the other verses I’ve posted about lately, this particular passage is related to being a bondservant. The charge prior to these verses is given that slaves should honor their believing masters for the benefit of both the believer and the slave. This most definitely would require a humble, serving heart, and contentment with the position the slave has been put in.
I don’t think this passage is telling us we should be content being a slave, but rather that if we find ourselves in a position where we are slave to something or someone, we should still seek contentment. It goes along with Philippians 2:14, that we should do all things without disputing or complaining. It is possible to work to change your position without coming across like a malcontent.
More and more, I am coming to see James 2:20 in a different light. Instead of thinking of it as faith without works being dead, I’m thinking in terms of calling ourselves Christians without being active servants is meaningless. Christ was a servant. If we aren’t servants, we are not like Christ, and how can we say we have true faith Christians if that is the case?
These days, though, it gets harder and harder to serve. People are unappreciative, or your service is unwanted. They are sometimes curt and hateful when they refuse what we’ve intended as an expression of our compassion. And then we lose sight of our contentment because we get so caught up in how the world’s treating us. And let’s face it. Sometimes we’re just pushy and ugly when we can’t convince people to see things our way.
Maya Angelou gave this simple advice.
Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.
A rainbow can be distant, out of reach. Many want to hold Christians at arm’s length–God forbid we share our faith and cause them to reflect on changes that need to be made in their own lives.
But distant doesn’t mean we can’t still share our faith.
A rainbow is a beacon of hope, something people pause to admire. What if we try to make our outpouring of faith beautiful, something to be desired? Selfless–it’s not about how people respond to our service, but rather the joy we get in doing it. If one person doesn’t respond to it well, we move on to the next one.
What if this joy became something the world could look upon and perhaps someday try to understand how they can find the peace we carry in our hearts? What if we determine to be positive and prayerful, no matter our circumstance?
Can we be that one person in the office who doesn’t laugh at someone while they’re down? The one person who prays over our food at the lunch table? Perhaps we can be the one person who sends a forgiving smile to the driver who cuts us off accidentally on the interstate.
Can we be a beacon of positivity that points the way to Christ?