September 19, 2014

A Tale of Two Hearts I: Contentment in Discomfort

I am going to present two pieces of Scripture that are diametrically opposed to one another. They are going in two opposite directions spiritually. They are two different heart conditions of two different types of people. They produce two different reactions from God and two different outcomes.

Numbers 11:1~“Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the LORD, and when he heard them his anger was aroused. Then fire from the LORD burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp. 

In Numbers 11 we see the murmuring of the people under Moses (God’s) provision and leadership. They didn’t have perfect lives but they certainly were not having a life under horrible subjugation in Egypt. In Egypt they had been slaves and had been suppressed and they wouldn’t have dared complain against Pharaoh. Yet here, in the wilderness we see them complaining against God who is infinitely greater than Pharaoh. It shows that their heads just were not strapped on too tight. Just as in the days of Moses, when we murmur against sovereign God’s provision and will, it actually reveals the lack of grace in our hearts. Complaining to God or sharing our struggle is biblical. We see exactly this in Psalms 6, 10 and 13 and in Lamentations. When we murmur and badmouth God it brings dishonor to Him. Doing things to bring dishonor to God is sinful.

Murmuring in a demeaning way shows a contaminated heart. The Epistle of Jude specifically states that the ungodly pervert or twist God’s grace (v.4) and that, “…these people are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage.” God clearly shows in this passage that grumblers, complainers or murmurs that pursue their own evil desires are people in rebellion against God. We know it from this passage and we know it from the account in Numbers 11. In Numbers God is angered and sends, “fire from the LORD burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp.” We see a similar incident in Exodus 17 when Moses strikes the rock for water. We clearly learn that malcontents and discontented hearts are the Devil’s own and we need to deal with them…especially when they are our hearts. If not…we are in rebellion against God. This is never a good place for our hearts to be.

When we complain we are never good witnesses to the Gospel. We show in our behavior that God’s promises to believers are not true. Discontent is the source of our warped outward projection to the world. Instead of shining like a city on a hill, discontented Christians suck the life right out of the Gospel with poor behavior. It just shows that we do not have the truth of the Gospel of Jesus in us. Instead, discontentedness shows that we do not trust in God's plans for us. We do not think that what He has planned for us is in our better interest. To murmur and rail against God in bad situations is to basically admit that we believe we know better than an omniscient God would. This of course is ludicrous and quite foolish.

The inverse of what we see in Numbers 11 is found in Philippians 4. Paul’s conversion is a call to suffering and discomfort but not a call to discontent.

Philippians 4:11-12 ~ “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 

In God’s economy or His way of working, a contented Christian is a discomforted believer. We need to recognize that God works through our hardship. We need to see that our discomfort is often our path to contentment in God Himself. If we look to the things in the world like the Israelites in Moses time did for contentment and comfort we can only be let down. If we look to God for everything which is what Paul eventually tells us to do in Philippians we find that we can even find contentment in our discomfort and trials. Why? Because we are looking past our trials to something eternal and above the suffering we are currently in. So what we find is that there is a huge difference between discomfort and discontent. Discomfort is a condition imposed on a person from the outside. Discontent is a poor internal condition allowed by our own heart and minds on the inside. Discomfort helps shape us into the people He wants us to be, discontent makes us into rebellious men with selfish hearts and godless agendas.

[Concluded in Part II]

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...