Ephesians 4:22-24 - You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
It would be so great to have a boat, or a bigger house, or a better car, or a higher paying job, or a more luxurious vacation, or, or, or, or, or, or, or, ...... Why can't my life be more like so and so's?
The quest for contentment can seem laborious, but the first step starts with the mind and the heart.
Since we have been raised with Christ, we are changed. We are a new creation and therefore our thoughts should be transformed as well. Colossians 3:2 says, "Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things." I have written on this passage before in my post, "A Matter of Affection and Perspective". This passage also applies to contentment. When we set our minds on the plan of God rather than the things of earth, we begin to see things differently. So how do we do this?
I believe that the first step is to realize that contentment is a learning process and make the decision to begin the process. When we realize this, we are able to recognize each step of our progress. However, as this Ephesians passage states, there is an element of commitment involved. As believers, we are taught to put off our old selves. The Greek word gives the image of laying aside and ridding oneself of something (BDAG). Paul recognizes that the old way in which we used to live is being corrupted by the earthy desires that we have. These desires eat away at us and consume our thoughts, attitudes, and lives. That is why Paul reminds the Ephesians not just to stop thinking about those things, but to throw them aside and make them no longer a part of their lives. We are then to replace our old selves with our newly created selves, redeemed by Christ. The Greek for "to put on" literally has the meaning to put on clothes. Therefore, like putting on a brand new outfit, we are to clothe ourselves with the newness of life that God has created for us, displaying righteousness and holiness. This is a change of attitude and heart. No longer is our affection on what the world has to offer, but rather on displaying the characteristics of God.
The picture I get in my mind is one of an event that occurred while working as a counselor at a Christian camp. It had rained and several of the counselors released some pent up energy through a huge mud fight. By the time it was over, I was covered from head to toe in mud and everything I touched left evidence of my escapade. However, once I got rid of the filthy clothes and put on a new outfit, it was as if I had never been tainted by the mud and was able to continue ministering to students. In the same way, when we have our minds set on the old way of life, which is clouded by earthly desires, discontentment will often stay festered within us. That discontentment leaves a trail of bitterness that affects everyone we encounter. We as believers must make the decision to take off that old way of life, with its accompanying desires and clothe ourselves with our new Christ-centered approach to life.
The Challenge today is to ask yourself if you have taken off your old self, meaning you have let go of the desires of the world and have instead taken on an attitude that is focused on Christ.
The first step to contentment is a change of attitude and heart. As a believer, Christ has already done a work in you to make you a new creation. Now it is time to make the commitment to make the change of heart needed to be a disciple, useful for displaying his righteousness and holiness. In doing this, you will find the first step to contentment.