At Multiply Church, we have been putting the forgotten discipline of fasting into practice as a community through a 40 day fast beginning on January 1st. At the beginning of this effort, we began sensing a call to contend. A leader from within our community felt further confirmation as the Lord led him to the book of Jude during his fast; which reads, “I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people.”
So what does it mean to contend?
This is not a word we use in our everyday vocabulary. Actually it means to struggle in opposition. Fasting is the current tactic we as Multiply Church are using to contend—to struggle in opposition against anything that would to come against us living into the life God has set before us. We are denying ourselves to seek God and fight for more of His Kingdom here on earth.
As we talk about all this struggling and hungering and thirsting and increasing our desperation for God, a new tension presents itself:
How do we balance all this longing with being content?
Contentment is always a struggle for me. There are times when I’m riding around the city and, more importantly, looking around at what others have, only to think to myself, “What am I doing wrong?” Just look at all there is to acquire in this world and then, suddenly, what you have doesn’t feel like enough.
Do you struggle with contentment too, or is it just me? Do you ever wonder if your marriage, your spouse, your finances and material possessions, your fitness level, or your career path is enough? Have you ever had this thought: “I always thought I’d be further along than I am at this point in my life!”?
One of the greatest schemes of the enemy and one behavior that will surely keep us from ever being content is comparison. Never before has humanity had more opportunities to compare ourselves to others than we do now. Every advertisement, all 5,000 per day, is really just a comparison. Your life to the one being presented, or worse, sold. Of course social media is a huge opportunity for us to be discontent. We’re comparing everyone else’s highlights to our entire lives.
So what’s a brother to do??
Well, the apostle Paul has an idea and we find it in a passage that includes one of the most popular, and most taken out of context, Bible verses. Paul tells the believers in Philippi that he has learned to be content whatever the circumstances.
Then he says, “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. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Notice that it is all this and not all things.
He did it! He figured it out. Paul knows how to find contentment. But how??
I think his contentment is found in his contending. What did Paul spending his life doing? He spent his life contending for the Kingdom of God.
So here’s how it works: Contending for our kingdom leads to comparison. Contending for the Kingdom leads to contentment.
When we are contending for our kingdom—striving for more until we have enough—we tend to be driven by greed, we operate out of fear, and we maintain a mindset of scarcity.
On the other side of the cross, when we contend for the Kingdom, we are driven by generosity, we operate out of faith, and, best of all, we experience freedom from greed, fear, and scarcity!
Greed says, “I don’t have enough” and fear says, “I might need this one day.”
Generosity says, “This isn’t mine anyway…I have it to share with those in need” and faith says, “Here you go.”
Could this be the reward and the abundant life of which Jesus speaks? I think so. We find life when we experience freedom, joy, and purpose.
When we shift from contending for our kingdom to contending for the Kingdom, we come alive like never before. Suddenly our marriages, our finances, our careers, and every other aspect of our existence is no longer something to be compared, but instead an opportunity to participate in “on earth as it is in Heaven.”
What is one shift you can make in order to contend for the Kingdom and, as a reward, find contentment?