If you came to my house on any given day there are a few phrases you may hear repeated are: “Stop it!,” “Moooooooom,” or “I’m Doooone!” But one phrase I know you would hear is “That’s not fair.”
Living in a home with five little kids who constantly battle with each other means that at any given moment one of them feels left out, picked on or marginalized. “That’s not fair” is a common phrase at the Weidmann house. But if we’re honest, even as adults, we repeat this phrase in our heads more than we probably admit.
What is fair anyway?
I will say to my kids, you’re right… it’s not fair… life is not fair… and you better get used to it now (I sound like a good loving father, don’t I?). But the truth is that life is not fair. Not only do we not get what we think we deserve, but we get far more than we do deserve. Life is not fair and if we go around discontent with what we’ve been given, or fail to recognize what we have, we will grow bitter at God and others.
Watch this Message:
In this post, we will talk about: The Power of Contentment. I want to help all of us understand the power that comes from being satisfied in Christ and dispelling an entitled attitude. The points of this message are derived from my study of Ruth 4:13-22.
Let me remind you that the main character we will see in today’s passage was very discontent at the beginning of this story. In chapter 1 of Ruth, Naomi was so mad at God for what he had taken from her that she threw her own little temper tantrum. In chapter 1 she said the Lord had dealt bitterly with her — in other words, God was not fair. I can see how she felt that way, she lost the land she loved, the husband she cherished and her two sons. That doesn’t seem fair.
When she arrived back in Bethlehem people welcomed her by name — Naomi! — yet she replied, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me” (v. 20). She set a negative example that we must take note of: There is danger in discontentment.
If we remain bitter at God for our circumstances and walk around with an “It’s not fair” attitude, we will physically and spiritually whither away. When a Christian struggle with discontentment it can lead to sin. We will begin doubting the goodness of God and using other coping mechanisms to make ourselves feel better. This is dangerous and can lead to unholy living.
The problem arises when we believe we need these new things to be satisfied. God’s gifts are for enjoyment and stewardship, not mere satisfaction. When we think otherwise, we will begin to grow impatient, resentful, and jealous. When we cannot look at Christ, and with faith—maybe not always with feelings— say with David, “my cup overflows” (Ps. 23:5), we need to repent of our discontentment.[i]
Naomi— or should I say “Mara”— was so discontent that it sets an example for us as to what we should not be like. Nonetheless, God can push through our feelings and bring our contentment about in His perfect timing. He did that for Naomi at the end of Ruth chapter 4.
Let’s read these verses and as we do, I want to give you Three Steps Toward Contentment. Ruth 4:13 says,
So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife. And he went in to her, and the LORD gave her conception, and she bore a son.
Verse 13 of Ruth 4 sums a lot up in one little verse. We are told that Boaz married Ruth, consummated the marriage with her, the Lord enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. All of these are answers to previous prayers in the book of Ruth:
- Ruth 1:19 – (Naomi prayed) “May the Lord grant that each of you will find rest in the home of another husband.”
- Ruth 2:12 – (Boaz prayed) “May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by The Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.”
- Ruth 2:20 – (Naomi regarding Boaz) “The Lord bless him! … He has not stopped showing his kindness to the living and the dead.”
- Ruth 3:10 – (Boaz to Naomi) “The Lord bless you, my daughter…This kindness is greater than that which you showed earlier: You have not run after the younger men, whether rich or poor.
- Ruth 4:11-12 – the elders’ blessings on Boaz’s marriage to Ruth, asking that his lineage build the house of David.
All of these passages were statements of trust that God could change the circumstances of the future.
The first step of contentment is this:
LOOK AHEAD: Believe that when God’s redemptive work reaches its culmination, joy will replace despair.
Though there was despair and grief in Naomi’s life, God would and could turn the mourning in to dancing for joy. In the same way, God can turn the despair you feel over your current circumstances into joy, but you must be looking ahead. As we’ve talked about in this series— “The best is yet to come.” God is working his purposes together for those who He loves and predestined to be like His Son (Rom. 8:28-29). Th work of God in your life may not have reached it full climax yet, but trust that when it does the results will be amazing. Have joy now, knowing that your despair will not last forever.
“You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.” — James 5:8
God’s finished purposes are closer than we think. Ironically, the problem is we often don’t look far enough ahead. We are supposed to be waiting with great anticipation—not only our next season of life—but rather eternity. We must be eagerly awaiting our Savior’s return (Phil. 3:20-21) and by doing so, both easy and difficult circumstances will be put in their rightperspective.
Let me ask you: are you more excited about eternity than about your future? If not, ask Christ for grace and passion to long for His coming more than just changed circumstances in this life.
Back to the story of Ruth: After we are told of Boaz and Ruth’s marriage and the birth of their son, we see another statement of blessing given by the women of the town to Naomi. They praised The Lord and recognized that it was His hand that had provided an heir for Naomi to carry on the family name. Then they asked The Lord to make this child famous throughout Israel. They rejoiced that through this child Naomi had moved from emptiness to fullness and they encouraged her with the thoughts of how this child would renew her life and sustain her in her old age.[ii]
Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the LORD, who has not left you this day without a redeemer, and may his name be renowned in Israel! He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age, for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.” This number seven is the biblical way of representing perfection or completion. Ruth had been more of a blessing to Naomi than any number of perfect sons. Look at the joy and thanksgiving that Naomi had, spoken by them women around her:
Then Naomi took the child and laid him on her lap and became his nurse. And the women of the neighborhood gave him a name, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi.” They named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.
A second step of contentment is this:
GIVE THANKS: Bless the Lord by praising Him for working out His purpose even in our pain.
These women were praising the Lord, Naomi included (who was once bitter old “Mara”). They were saying, “Bless the lord”. To bless God means to recognize His great richness, strength, and gracious bounty and to express our gratitude and delight in seeing and experiencing it.[iii] We express this through prayers directly to God, but we also bless Himwhen we speak favorably about Him and His work to others.
For example, when I say to the rest of my family, man, did you all see how Carolina cleared the dinner table… wow! I speak directly to her about what she did, but I tell others about what she did. In the same way, we bless the Lord when we are quick to speak about what He did for us when speaking, typing, talking or posting to others. As we do this, we are not only blessing God but we are filling our hearts with joy over His work and character.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Notice that this verse doesn’t give content as to when we should rejoice; rather we are told to rejoice always— being content in all circumstances and praying and praising God without stopping.
A third step of contentment is this:
MAINTAIN PERSPECTIVE: Remember that God’s faithfulness transcends our lifetime and exceeds our expectations.
For Naomi, he future and the future of her linage was changed. What she thought was a dead-end was not a through-street. God gave this baby to Ruth, which was added to Naomi’s line, now making a way for the greatest king of the Old Testament to be born. Look at how the book concludes:
Now these are the generations of Perez: Perez fathered Hezron, Hezron fathered Ram, Ram fathered Ammin-a-dab, Ammin-a-dab fathered Nah-shon, Nah-shon fathered Salmon, Salmon fathered Boaz, Boaz fathered Obed, Obed fathered Jesse, and Jesse fathered David.
God’s faithfulness transcended Naomi and Ruth’s life. It exceeded all expectations. What they thought was over in Moab ended with an incredible encore in Israel.
From the birth of Obed came Jesse, King David’s father. Not only was Ruth’s story significant to bring about a king for Israel, but the line of David eventually gave way to the king of the World, Jesus Christ.
Matthew 1:3-5 mention these exact people mentioned at the end of Ruth. They are mentioned as a part of the genealogy of Christ. A genealogy is not just a family tree; it is an official record of God’s blessing—and that is never truer than in the genealogy of Christ. When we zoom out and regain perspective, we see that God was doing something greater than Naomi’s little life.
The message of Ruth is clear: God cares for needy people like Naomi and Ruth… like you and me. God is our ally in a chaotic world. He has a plan for our redemption and His plan will never be stopped. So we wait on Him, trusting Him with great faith and rest assured that in Christ, the best is yet to come.