By Katie Reno
Contentment. I want to invite you to dwell today on this powerful yet subtle word. Contentment is defined as peaceful satisfaction.
Let’s go ahead and talk turkey. Have you ever met someone truly content in life? I have yet to meet anyone experiencing lasting contentment apart from the work of the Holy Spirit. Contentment has to be supernatural, right? Especially with the different factors begging us to not be satisfied.
Our culture is continually pressuring us to be more, do more, and have more. Contentment could come across as settling for less. For example, does your child have the newest hot toy of the season? They won’t experience life to the fullest without it. Do you know how to get in the best shape of your life in 60 days? This workout plan will change your life forever. Have you tried the latest eye cream? It promises to work wrinkle miracles. This one always gets me as a tired mom.
Another way we may wrestle with contentment is from our own pride and insecurities. We want “things” or people to satisfy the longing we have in yearning for more. Have you ever compared your life to someone else who looks like they have far less struggles? Or do you compare yourself to someone who doesn’t have as much to make you feel better about what you do have? All of these pressure points are exhausting and don’t bring us satisfaction.
How in the world do we practically live out contentment? I would like to propose two words. Are you ready? It’s not glamorous or appealing. The two words I have found that lead to contentment are “self denial.”
My dear friend, Jessie Smith, said it well: “Self denial is the best form of self care.” Big gulp. Ok, don’t stop reading yet. Keep walking with me. When we die to what we think we deserve and stop fighting for our self righteousness, we will THRIVE in contentment.
“And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.”
Mark 8:34-35 ESV
Who in the Bible displays contentment well? We could discuss a few, but Mary of Bethany has to be a top contender. You’ve probably heard the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10. Martha was busy and distracted by her tasks while Mary was content to sit at Jesus’ feet. She was in awe of who He was and longed to be in His presence. Martha missed a moment with Jesus because she felt she had to “be more, do more” like we talked about earlier. This story doesn’t suggest for us to not ever work hard at daily tasks. In this moment of the day, Jesus was at their house. Mary chose to be in His presence, undistracted. And I bet after He left, she was content from her time well spent with Him. She got up full of purpose and life from her time with Him.
The other story where Mary displays contentment is found in John 12.
“Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.”
What is captivating about this story is Mary taking expensive perfume and pouring it on Jesus’ feet. And she doesn’t stop there. Mary wipes His feet with her hair, which was seen as a woman’s glory back then. I don’t know about you, but this wrecks me! Mary’s gaze is fixed on Jesus and she worships Him with all she has. She denies herself and her worth because she’s satisfied in Jesus – not what He can do, but simply who He is. What a beautiful worshipper!
I love what verse 3 says after Mary pours the perfume on Jesus’ feet. Her house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. Others could smell the aroma from this act of worship. Contentment isn’t easy to achieve. We have to make choices (sometimes hard ones) that put our self, comfort, and opinions to death. Invite the Holy Spirit into your heart to find contentment. Let’s offer ourselves daily to Jesus. We will live fully when we do! We’ll be peacefully satisfied. I want that! Don’t you? Who knows, it may leave a fragrance for others to follow.
Katie is the wife of Kyle Reno, Pastor of The Summit Church in Conway, Arkansas. She is currently a stay-at-home mom and spends most of her time with their beautiful adopted sons, Cooper and Able. Katie is passionate about encouraging other women to know and have a relationship with Jesus. She believes in this new generation of women who hunger for God's Word and desire to fully live out their purpose. Being a mom and church planter's wife has taught Katie how important it is to abide in the Lord for guidance in fulfilling her calling. She desires to walk alongside other moms and learn how to intentionally train the children God blessed them with to love Him with all of their hearts.