Now, the gospel is spreading rapidly and widely throughout the world. I believe that it is a result of the Holy Spirit; God has given more power to our brothers and sisters because they are content wherever they go and always give thanks to Him for everything.
They joyfully work to spread the gospel even in the places where evangelism is tough because of their economic and socio-cultural conditions. All of them say that they walk with the Father and Mother more closely in difficult situations. Since they are always joyful and thankful even in difficulties and hardships, the gospel can rapidly spread throughout the whole world. I am so proud of my brothers and sisters for having such a content heart.
We have many missionaries overseas. Let me introduce a young missionary couple who have gone to a country less developed than Korea. Even though circumstances are unfavorable, they always greet brothers and sisters and their neighbors with a smile, setting an example of willingly taking initiative in doing hard work. They are now bearing the fruit of the gospel abundantly. They are admired widely among all native brothers and sisters.
I have been exchanging e-mails with them. I once asked them if they had any difficulties, and they replied to my e-mail, saying that they were more thankful to God for sending them there; as they were preaching the gospel in a poor country rather than in a rich one, they came to realize how much our Father suffered when He began His ministry on this earth and how earnestly our Mother took care of each child at the beginning. I was deeply touched that they were content even under such difficult circumstances and always thankful to Father and Mother.
This is the attitude of faith that God wants us to have. It is not enough just to keep the commandments of God. We are also required to be born again in God. It will be only an outward ceremony just to keep what God has commanded, without being renewed inwardly.
. . . for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 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. Php 4:10-12
If one goes abroad for mission work, having learned to be content like Paul, he can adapt himself to any situation. However, if he becomes discontent with the immediate situation, he can not bear fruit or do the will of God. It is the same with domestic mission work. There is God’s plan for the situation we are facing; and God leads us into the places where He has intended for us, in order that He may refine us like gold and silver and give us blessings. We must believe this.
A grateful heart is the result of being content in every situation. Grumbling is the outpouring of a discontent heart. Man’s greed knows no bounds; the more he gets, the more he wants. However, we seek the things above and run after them. We must be content and thankful in all circumstances, with an attitude that pleases God.
. . . Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Th 5:13-18
“Give thanks in all circumstances” means “being thankful in every situation, whether favorable or unfavorable.” This is God’s will for us.
Now, let’s look around at our brothers and sisters and carefully evaluate our current circumstance. Some of them set good examples to learn from, but some still have personality flaws and show unfavorable examples to avoid. Sometimes we are placed in favorable circumstances, and sometimes in unfavorable ones. However, all our circumstances are the most favorable ones caused by God for our spiritual profit. If we understand the will of God, we cannot thank God enough even though we thank Him ten million times a day.
For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Th 5:9
God has called us into Zion and granted us salvation. What more do we want? God has given us all the good things. So, we are to be joyful always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances.
Though we are in a favorable situation, if we focus on what we are lacking right now, we forget to give thanks and begin to grumble and complain. Here is an example.
There was an engaged couple in America. The man wanted to give his fiancée a wonderful memorable present on New Year’s Day. He wholeheartedly prepared five gift boxes and brought them to his future bride.
With a fluttering heart, she opened the first box and there was a blue sweater in it. When she looked at it, she made a wry face. The man said, “Didn’t you want this blue sweater? You said it was very pretty.” Then she said discontentedly, “That’s last year’s trend. This year’s fashion color is orange. Now I want an orange sweater.”
The man gave another gift box to her, saying, “This is what you wanted to have. I’m sure you’ll like it.” The second present was a handbag. It was a high quality handbag made of genuine alligator leather. Its center was protuberant, designed in the shape of a crocodile mouth. She said that she didn’t like it because of its childish design, and pushed the bag aside. The third box contained shoes, the fourth a ring, and the fifth a necklace. However, she was continually dissatisfied with every present and grumbled.
The man said in a disappointed voice, “Now I have to exchange it.” She became very happy and said, “Let’s go and exchange the gifts right now.” Then the man said coldly, “No, I don’t need to exchange them. I need to exchange my fiancée.”
The person who always grumbles and complains is ungrateful for any wonderful gift received. On the contrary, a content person is thankful for every gift, small or large, understanding the heart of its giver who wants to please him/her. If the fiancée had always been thankful, she would have received more gifts. What if she had been thankful to him for his heartfelt gift before she said that she wanted an orange sweater? Her fiancé would also have bought it for her. She was discontent with all the precious gifts, and eventually her fiancé left her. Likewise, most people today fail to give thanks for things to be thankful for, because they do not understand their value, and foolishly they come to lose what is truly precious.
Let’s get rid of the habit of being discontent and grumbling. Jesus says that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken (Mt 12:36-37). If one speaks thankful words, he will be one step closer to heaven; if he utters grumbling words, he will be one step closer to hell.
But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God―having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. 2 Ti 3:1-5
The Bible teaches us not to conform to this unthankful world. People easily forget favors received. They tend to attribute success to themselves, and failure to others. They are ungrateful, and they can hardly be moved and grateful. They do not give thanks to God for His grace. They easily complain when a small inconvenience happens to them. Jesus tells us to turn away from such people. We are to learn the attitude of being thankful through the teachings of God.
In the days of Jesus, ten lepers were all healed by the word of Jesus, but only one of them came back to thank Jesus after they were healed; and Jesus felt grieved by their ungrateful attitude (Lk 17:11-19).
Because of the current economic recession, many families are suffering from financial hardships. Under this difficult situation, however, if we understand God’s will and give thanks to Him, we will be blessed with better circumstances. There is a country where the average family income is only 10% of ours. Nevertheless, the people in that country do not complain about their circumstances. Considering this, it is the discontented people who are really poor and unhappy.
We have the hope for heaven. Though we are in a somewhat difficult situation, we should not be disheartened or resentful, for we have the most precious treasure in the world.
When we are content and satisfied, we can understand God’s will―why God put me in these kinds of situations. Now, let’s think what we can do for God who has been sacrificed to save us and leads us into the kingdom of heaven.
The LORD Almighty has sworn, “Surely, as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will stand.” Isa 14:24
God’s plan and purpose are to be surely fulfilled. “Give thanks in all circumstances.” This is God’s will. To thankful people God gives things to be thankful for; to grumbling people He gives things to be ungrateful for. We are to give thanks in any and all circumstances.
Joy comes from contentment; it disappears when discontent arises. If one of us is discontent, Zion cannot overflow with joy. When we are all content with what we have, whether it is little or much, Zion will be perfectly beautiful in God’s sight.
We are so thankful to God for saving us. How much more should we thank Him for entrusting us with the precious duty of the ministers of the new covenant? In preaching the gospel, it doesn’t matter wherever we are or what position or title we have in the Church.
Discontentment comes from covetousness; as the proverb goes, “Greed has no limits.” He who is content with what he has can live a happy and satisfied life. However, a discontent person always wants more than what he has; sometimes he even invents something evil, staying up all night.
Let us learn to be content and joyful in all things. When we are in a difficult situation, we ought to think what God’s will is and endure, being more thankful. Jonah the prophet was even placed in the awful situation of being in the belly of a fish. If he had complained in that situation, he would not have been able to fulfill God’s purpose to save about 120,000 people in Nineveh. He realized his mistake and repented. And once out of the belly of the fish, he boldly preached God’s message, giving thanks to God for saving his life.
Grumbling people are discontent with anything and everything. God placed Jonah in a desperate situation, and enabled him to have the right attitude of faith and to make a glorious achievement deserving of eternal rewards in heaven.
We shouldn’t be discouraged by our surroundings; like Jonah, we are to remember God’s grace and give thanks even in difficult situations.
and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered over the desert. . . . And do not grumble, as some of them did―and were killed by the destroying angel. These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 1 Co 10:4-12
Complaint is an expression of discontentment and dissatisfaction. The Israelites poured out their complaints to God whenever they were a little inconvenienced in the desert. “There is no water. There is no food. Why doesn’t God lead us the shortest way? . . . ” Thus they continually grumbled, and in the end they failed to enter the land of Canaan; all their bodies fell in the desert.
It may be a virtue to feel lacking in many ways. However, if we feel discontent or dissatisfied with what we have, we become grumblers. What happened to the Israelites in the desert serves as a warning for us. When we face difficult situations, if there is God’s purpose for us, we should be content; and if we are given favorable circumstances for the propagation of the gospel in accordance with God’s will, we should be more content and grateful. By putting us in various situations God purifies and refines us until we reach heaven. Understanding the redemptive purpose of God for us, we are to give thanks in every circumstance or situation, praying that we may find all our lost brothers and sisters. Then God will be pleased and give us more blessings.
God has a purpose for everything. We must find it. Though we are physically poor and lacking, we are spiritually rich. Let us overcome circumstances rather than surrender to them and be more involved in the gospel work.
Let us habitually express our thanks to people around us. As God has taught us, we need to be thankful to each other all the time: at home, husbands to wives, wives to husbands, parents to children and children to parents. Thus, we should spread the practice of gratefulness to our neighbors, society and the whole world. Since people are discontent and envious, wars and disputes arise among them. Let’s try harder to make the world a happier place where all are content and thankful. Such is the kingdom of heaven.
When we feel something lacking, let’s fill our hearts with contentment and thanksgiving. Then God will give us abundant fruit. I hope all of us in Zion live a content life and receive all blessings by obeying the words of our Heavenly Father and Mother.