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The (Dis)content of “If only …” In Our Relationships

The strength of contentment is found in someone, not some situation.

That is the lesson we learn as we consider the Apostle Paul’s message in Philippians 4:10-20. But there’s only one Someone who can provide all the physical, experiential and relational elements of life that are part of the human hunger for true satisfaction. Only Jesus has the divine capacity to be the object of such a relationship. Only he can bear the weight of our interpersonal weaknesses.

Because God created us in his image, we are, at the core, relational beings.

God enjoys within the unity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit the kind of loving, fulfilling and complete interaction that can only be described as “Oneness.” As humans we long for and pursue that kind of relationship with each other. As sinners, however, we tend to relate to each other in the limitations of our weaknesses.  

As a result, we’re often disappointed with our spouses, parents, children, friends and co-workers.

Much of that disappointment originates in presumption that our relationship with them should make us content. We express that presumption with our “If only’s!”

“If only my husband was more …” – you fill in the blank – “Then I’d be content.“  “If only my wife didn’t …”  “If only my parents had been more…”  “If only my kids were less…”  “If only my co-worker didn’t always …”

The “If only …” we need to substitute for our laundry list of interpersonal discontent is this: “If only I’d turn to Jesus in my moments of relational dissatisfaction, I’d find Someone who is strong enough to provide the core of what I hunger for in all my other relationships.”

Then I wouldn’t make someone the source of my satisfaction who, just like me, is flawed and weak.  No one but Jesus can carry that weight.  

Saying, “Yes” to Jesus in those moments will shift the weight of our expectations from someone who could never fulfill the expectations that only God can meet to the Someone who can.

It will also provide us a surplus of satisfaction in Christ so that we can more selflessly love the people in our lives, instead of making them instruments for the pursuit of our own happiness OR excuses for our discontentment.  

In God’s absence we can never achieve that kind of relationship with each other.

In Jesus, we can have the relationship with God that we were made for and bring the strength of that relationship into all our other relationships.

May it be so in our lives!

Steve Holsteen

Pastor for Missional Leadership


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