Christian Contentment: An Interview with Melissa Kruger
What is the source of Christian contentment? How can a Christian identify discontentment and wage war against it? In her new teaching series, Contentment, Melissa Kruger offers teaching and encouragement on how Scripture defines and describes contentment. The following is my interview with her around the topic.
In one of your teaching sessions, you mention that plenty will not and cannot bring contentment and you quote Calvin when he says, “We are idol-making factories.” Can you expand on this?
Gaining all the earth has to offer can never bring lasting contentment because everything we have here is temporary. Ultimately, the more we set our affections on created things over our Creator, the more discontent we will be. It isn’t that the items we enjoy here are necessarily bad in and of themselves, they are just finite, unfit for our greatest affection. We can easily become enamored with the things of earth, but we’ll always be left wanting more—we have an eternal thirst that can only be satisfied by an eternal God. When we love creation more than the Creator, we can foolishly make an idol out of anything. We are like children choosing the pink plastic toy ring from the gumball machine instead of the real diamond. We miss out on true riches because we seek to satisfy ourselves with lesser things.
You point to Psalm 139 to show where the true source of contentment comes from. What exactly is the source of our contentment and why does it matter?
Psalm 139 gives us a small glimpse into the greatness of God. He knows everything. He sees everything. He is everywhere. In our darkest moments, we are not alone—he will never leave or forsake us. God’s character is the foundation of our contentment. In the mystery of his providence, God is always working for our best good, to conform us into the image of Jesus. His promises are sure and his character is true. He’s the source of our hope, joy, and peace. The more we behold the glory of our God, the more content we will be.
What is the enemy of contentment and how should Christians battle against it?
Coveting is the great enemy of our contentment, built on a foundation of unbelief. When we covet, we wrongly believe we know more than God and we falsely believe that God has failed to be good to us.When we covet, we wrongly believe we know more than God and we falsely believe that God has failed to be good to us. Click To Tweet Essentially, a covetous heart doubts God’s goodness and sovereignty in a way that spirals downward into distrust, despair, discontentment, and disobedience.
In our fight for contentment, we need help. We can’t fight this battle on our own, we need the power of the Spirit at work in our hearts. How do we rightly take hold of this power? We pray and ask for help. We abide in Jesus by reading and obeying his Word (John 15). Daily reminders of his love, his grace, and his truth help us fight against unbelief and walk in the truth that sets us free.
How does God’s infinitude inform the way we view him and our sin? Why is it important that we have a big view of God in seeking to live godly and fruitful lives?
The more we know God, the more we understand his character and the more we recognize our own limitations. We are limited by time, understanding, and our own imperfections, but God is infinite, omniscient, omnipotent, and perfect in all his ways. We are far too finite to comprehend the actions of an infinite all-wise God (Rom. 11:33). The question for each of us is simply, “Whom will I trust?” Will I trust my own understanding of the world and my circumstances, or will I trust the Word of God? The more we recognize God’s greatness and our own limitations, the more we obey because we know his ways are good, his paths are right. We give up trying to go our own way because we understand our complete inability to choose for ourselves what is good, right, and true. True belief in God leads to an ultimate trust for God which results in faithful obedience of God. It’s the natural progression of a Spirit-filled life.
Why is it good news that our thirst is quenched in Christ alone? What does this communicate about the character of God?
Christ is a fount for all who are thirsty. The good news is that everyone is invited to come and drink and be satisfied. Every other source we chase for contentment will eventually run dry, but Jesus will faithfully satisfy us through all of life. No matter what we endure, he is with us: “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:37-38). His love is eternally sufficient to sustain us for every circumstance.
We are approaching the holiday season and, for many Christians, this time of year has a way of making us more aware than usual of our discontentment. What does the singing of Paul and Silas in a jail cell in Acts 16 teach us about joy in God?
Paul and Silas were unjustly arrested, beaten, and imprisoned. Yet, they sang for joy! The treasure they possessed rendered circumstances unable to hinder their joy. They were impervious to discontentment because they understood the greatness of the gift of salvation. When we lose sight of Jesus, when we forget the cross, when we fail to consider the inheritance that awaits, we will find ourselves misplacing our hope in earthly moments, people, and things. In the midst of celebrating his birth, it is easy to become distanced from his presence. Our discontentment reveals our daily need to drink again from the fount that is always full. Thankfully, he welcomes us daily to renewal and refreshment, with a promise of joy: “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11).
You have long had a passion for women growing in an understanding of who God is. As you have taught the Bible over the years, what have you learned about faithfully studying Scripture? What encouragement do you have for women who desire to grow in a knowledge of God’s Word?
We learn the Bible one day at a time. Like food, we need it every day. God’s Word is life-changing. It’s living and active. It’s personal and powerful. It penetrates to our deepest souls. Without God’s Word we will wither and dry up like a dusty vine. By abiding in God’s Word, we will bear much fruit.
My encouragement? If you want to grow in your knowledge of God’s Word, read it. You need it every day. Don’t worry if you get confused sometimes. We all do. Keep reading, studying, memorizing, and meditating. And, do what it says. Obeying God’s Word will prove the reliability of God’s Word. There’s no better foundation on which to build your life.