Paul spent three and a half years in Ephesus ministering and establishing the church. He was now on a crash course with the Jerusalem Jewish leaders, facing potential persecution and death. Paul shared his heart with the Ephesian leaders, knowing he would never see them again face to face. As he addressed the Ephesian leaders one last time, his words ooze with contentment. Paul’s contentment was tied to his obedience. So how does obedience produce contentment?
- Obedience simplifies life. Paul had one purpose and that was to do whatever God asked him to do. When faced with a dilemma, Paul did not need to think about the ramifications or the complexity of the situation. Instead, Paul simply needed to be obedient to God. He did not need to focus on the other lanes in life, but on running in his lane. Contentment was found in simply saying yes.
- Obedience fosters a sense of accomplishment. We see this in Paul’s last letter to Timothy as he declared that he had fought, finished, and kept (2 Tim. 4:7 – remember, Timothy pastored the church in Ephesus, connected Paul’s words in Acts 20 with his words to Timothy). Paul was asked to do something hard, but in doing it, he found contentment. Paul learned that contentment was found not in the difficulty of the task, but rather in faithfulness to that task.
- Obedience gives us a tangible way to express love. Love can be seen in many ways, with obedience being at the top of the list. When it comes to God, how can we show Him love? We can’t really give Him a gift that He doesn’t already have. If we want to demonstrate love to Someone who has everything, we do so by doing what He asks of us.
- Obedience eliminates guilt and regrets which rob us of contentment. Paul warned the leaders about future trouble but he also reminded everyone that if someone in Ephesus was an unbeliever, it was by their choice. There would be no one from Ephesus in hell who could ask Paul why he didn’t tell me the truth about Jesus. Some people who heard Paul preach will be in hell, but not because he failed to tell them.
Can you have true contentment in life without obedience? Explain. What is the relationship between obedience and contentment? How else does obedience produce contentment?