Tuesday 10 July 2012


When is it right to be discontented?

Recently, a church member asked for prayers whether he should accept an offer of promotion in his company. He reckoned that the new post would mean heavier responsibilities and felt he was not ready for it. Later, as a group of close friends prayed for him, it became clear that God wanted him to seize the offer.

We have often been taught that we are to be content (1 Timothy 6:6-8) with our lot in life, be satisfied with what we have.But this kind of attitudecelebrating our status quo—may result in us becoming indolent and passive. It may even stand in the way of God blessing us and using us in a greater measure to impact the church or community.

The apostle Paul reminds us to press on and not to rest on our laurels:
“Yet, my brothers, I do not consider myself to have “arrived”, spiritually, nor do I consider myself already perfect. But I keep going on, grasping ever more firmly that purpose for which Christ grasped me. My brothers, I do not consider myself to have fully grasped it even now. But I do concentrate on this: I leave the past behind and with hands outstretched to whatever lies ahead I go straight for the goal — my reward the honour of being called by God in Christ” (Philippians 3:13-14 — J.B. Phillips New Testament ).

If we already have a clear understanding of God’s calling on our lives, then we should remain focused and continue to stir up our gifts in the direction we believe He has called us.

In fact, we are exhorted to earnestly desire (covet) the most helpful spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:31, 14:1). Strong language indeed.

Consider Caleb who, even in his eighties, still looked forward to conquering new lands and defeating his enemies. “Give me this mountain which God has promised me.” That was his battle cry. He had this fighting spirit right to the very end (Joshua 14:10-12). As General Douglas MacArthur says, “Old soldiers never die; they just fade away.”

Often our enemies are not out there but within — we are sometimes our own worst enemies. When we rest on our laurels or deem it spiritual to remain contented with the status quo, we may miss out on what God has in store for us.

Concerning the qualifications of high office in church, Paul taught: “If anyone aspires to be an overseer (bishop) he desires a noble task” (1 Timothy 3:1). This implies that is it not wrong to harbour ‘holy ambition’. But let the motives be pure, not tainted by pride.

So there is a right kind of ambition which glorifies God as opposed to that which seeks to glorify man. The latter is fuelled by lust for power, fame and money.  

If God calls us to higher office, he will equip us to perform the task. At the same time, we have to be disciplined to work it out as co-workers with God. Do we need to do more serious Bible study? Pray more? Go for formal theological education?

As Philippians 2: 12-13 enjoins us: … “work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” Do not be a reluctant leader like Moses who said, “Here am I. Please send someone else.”

* “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that” (1 Timothy 6:6-8).



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