A Proper Focus – Week 3:
 HOW TO HAVE PEACE AND CONTENTMENT —
 A Couple’s Bible Study

“…where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” — Matthew 6:21

Having a strong and lasting marriage doesn’t just happen. Without a proper focus, we will drift apart. As believers, this proper focus comes from God’s Word. And this month we are turning our attention to Christ Jesus and His teachings in Matthew 5-7–what we’ve come to know as the “The Sermon on the Mount.”

Last week we looked at some of Jesus’ key teachings in Matthew 5 and how they relate to marriage. This week we turn to Matthew 6. (Once again, we encourage you to read the whole chapter to see the full context. We suggest that you meet together as a couple sometime this week to read through the chapter and discuss the truths God reveals to you. (See Couple Connect.) The questions at the end of this post will help you look at your own life and marriage and see how to apply these biblical teachings. Learning God’s truth together and living it out day-to-day helps you keep a proper focus.

How to Have Peace and Contentment

Do you long to live a life of peace and contentment? This world is a hard place to live. We search for calmness and security, but even in our own hearts and homes we struggle–with ourselves…with each other. How do we find the serenity we so desire?

Jesus has the answer. After all, He came to bring us peace. Let’s look at His teachings to find the key to peace and contentment.

Proper Motives

Giving. Praying. Fasting. In Matthew 6:1-18, Jesus calls attention to these three important acts of worship. A “good” Jewish person had been taught to demonstrate his righteousness through these.

But He points out a problem. While Jesus commands us to participate in these vital acts of worship–“when you give” (v. 2), “when you pray” (v. 5), “when you fast” (v. 16)–He tells us why and how we do them is vitally important.

Jesus is concerned with our motives…with what’s in our hearts.

Giving, praying, and fasting should be done as acts of true worship, not acts to show the world how good or righteous we are. Attention from the world should never be our motive. When we give and pray and fast, we should do it for God and the good of others—not for ourselves.

When we place our focus on ourselves, our devotion turns inward. We no longer worship the Lord God–we worship self. We don’t give of ourselves to benefit Him and those around us. When this is the case, we cannot experience the peace we all long for—not in our own lives nor in our marriages.

Therefore, Jesus tells us we must examine our motives. Why do we do what we do? Who are we doing it for?

Proper Devotion

Next, Jesus addresses two crucial areas of our lives that deal with our priorities and where we place our focus.

The first has to do with money and material possessions. In all my years of counseling married couples, this is often an area that brings problems in a marriage. Matthew 6:19-24 is my favorite biblical teaching when dealing with this issue.

Jesus makes His point clear in verse 24: “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”

If you cannot serve both God and money (or possessions), then you certainly cannot serve both your spouse and money. This divided devotion will stir up conflict between you.

In his first letter to his young protégé, Timothy, the apostle Paul also spoke to being careful about money and material things. He warned in 1 Timothy 6:5 about the dangers of those “who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.” He then gives the solution to this dangerous problem in 1 Timothy 6:6-10:

“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”

When we become discontented with what God has given us financially and materially, then we will become discontented with other things in our lives, including our spouse. Everything we have is from God and belongs to Him. Therefore, to be discontented reveals a heart that is not right with God. It hinders our relationship not only with Him but also with our spouse.

In Matthew 6:21, Jesus says, where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” If our focus is on the things of this world, then our hearts will be devoted to this world, not the Lord. And when that’s the case, we will never be able to love our husbands or wives as God calls us to.

Where is your devotion? Is it focused on possessions and what the world has to offer, or is it focused on the Lord God?

Make Christ your treasure. Make Him your focus and priority. And He will make everything else fall into place.

Peace & Contentment in Christ
Proper Dependence

The final thing Jesus addresses in this chapter is worry—an issue that comes up again and again when I counsel. So many of the problems I encounter in people’s lives and marriages are the direct result of worry.

It’s not by accident that Jesus teaches on this immediately after talking about money and possessions. Much of our anxiety comes from a focus on these things. He says when we worry we are acting like “pagans” (Matthew 6:32), because they don’t believe in God or in His power and love. They don’t trust Him to take care of them. So they worry.

We don’t need to fear. We just need to look at how God cares for the birds and the plants. God’s Word says we are much more important to Him, yet He is faithful to take care of their needs. Surely, as He promises, He’ll be faithful to take care of us as well. (See Matthew 6:25-30.)

Jesus basically tells us to stop being greedy and full of anxiety. If we make Him our priority and focus on Him, His kingdom, and His righteousness, He will give us everything we need (Matthew 6:33). He will fill us with contentment and peace the world can never give.

In John 14:27, Jesus promised: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Do you worry? Are you afraid? That is not the life God wants for you.

Trust in the Lord. Listen to His promises. He is faithful. He cares for you, and He will provide for your every need. Of this, you can be sure.

This kind of focus on Christ brings peace and contentment in your marriage. And it will bring joy that you could never experience otherwise. When you live for Christ, your marriage will become the marriage you long for and the one God desires for you. It will become a beautiful instrument of His peace to the world.

Questions to Ask Yourself

      • Do I worship–give, pray, fast–to gain attention or to be accepted?
      • Do I give cheerfully, with a desire to benefit the receiver? Or do I give because it is expected of me?
      • Are my prayers mostly self-focused?
      • Do I fast? And if so, do I make it obvious to others?
      • How often are my thoughts about money or possessions?
      • Am I content with what I have been given today? Or do I always strive for something more?
      • Is Christ my treasure?
      • How often do I worry?
      • What am I afraid of?
      • Do I really trust the Lord to take care of me?
      • How does a wrong focus on these things negatively affect my relationship with God? with my spouse?

Suggestions for Applying This to Your Life

      • Ask the Lord to show you areas in your life where SELF has become your priority.
      • Confess and ask forgiveness for any sins God has revealed.
      • Before giving..praying…fasting, ask God to give you a pure heart and right motives.
      • When thoughts of wanting more money or possessions start to creep in, take those thoughts captive. PRAY, asking God to help you focus on the blessings you already have and be content.
      • When you start to worry, read Matthew 6:19-34. Let God remind you that He’s got this. Put your trust back on Him and rest in His security and peace.
      • Consider starting a gratitude journal–recording the blessings you see in each day.

Next week we will look at Matthew 7 and conclude our study of Jesus’ teachings in the Sermon on the Mount, as we continue to see how His teachings can help our marriages be all He designed them to be.

Until then, may God bless you in all His wonderful ways,
David

 

Other posts in A PROPER FOCUS series:
Part 1–How to Keep Your Marriage from Falling Apart
Part 2–The Better Way to a Better Marriage
Part 4–The Best Way to Deal with Problems in Marriage

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Photos by Hans via pixabay (CC0), cropped, text added.

About David Penley

A devoted husband and father, former pastor and seminary professor, who longs to grow closer to the likeness of Christ each day and share God's love and truth with everyone.