How content are you with who you are?
I read Jesus’ sermon on the mount in The Message recently and was struck by Peterson’s translation of Matthew 5:5: "You’re blessed when you are content with just who you are—no more, no less."
The first thought that came to mind was another passage of Scripture: "Love your neighbor as you love yourself" (Mt. 22:39). Perhaps the most elementary point of this verse is that if I don’t love myself, my neighbor isn’t going to appreciate my attempts at "loving" him.
I can give intellectual assent to loving myself, but the proof of my love will be in my contentment with Pres. As I thought about it, I realized I had a nice, neat, theological perspective of me. I am accepted, loved, forgiven, sanctified, justified, seated with Christ in heavenly places, etc., etc.
But after reading Peterson’s translation, and pondering the idea of being content with who I am, I realized my belief had not made it from my head to my heart.
I quit talking and began to listen to the thoughts that streamed into my mind, and I believed by faith that the thoughts were from my heavenly Father. Pres, the jealousy, bitterness, resentment, discontent, and entitlement you fight against is indicative of your failure to be content with who you are. You are attempting to gain contentment rather than being content.
Stop striving and driving and pushing to prove yourself. Relax in who I have made you to be. No more, no less. It is only then that you will be content.
After reading those thoughts, I guess you pretty well know what I’m trusting Christ for right now. Not only do I want to be free of these ungracious struggles that hound me, but I want to love others as Father God envisions and I want my conduct to be a genuine demonstration of His love to them.
I’m not capable of giving what I don’t possess.
But there is another aspect of this that motivates me: When Scripture says, "Love others like you love yourself," it occurs to me that God is one of the "others" I’m supposed to love as I love myself!
It’s no good to talk the Christian talk about loving God when I fail to love myself and be content with who He says I am. I’m not capable of giving what I don’t possess.
God is always working the relationship angle, isn’t He? His logic is cyclical, as I consider it. "For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it," He says (Mt. 16:25). He lays His life down so I can live. I lay my life down, and He lives in another, who lays his life down, and the body of Christ is perpetuated and God’s kingdom enriched.
By being content with who I am, I become content with who He is. By being content with who He is, I become content with who I am. By being content with Him, and with me, I convey contentment to others—and the cycle continues.
How about you? Are you content with who you are? Or more fundamentally, have you asked your heavenly Father to help you understand who He declares you to be?
It’s the place to begin—no matter where you are. He is not far and His declaration isn’t dependent on your location. But your contentment is dependent upon your endorsement and engagement.