Contentment, Part One

“Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth.” 1 Timothy 6:6

Contentment: a resting or satisfaction of mind without disquiet; acquiescence.

What does it meant to be content? After all, Paul learned how to be “content with whatever I have” (Philippians 4:11) and even proclaimed, “We own nothing, and yet have everything” (2 Corinthians 6:10).  How could this be?

In 2018, we don’t seem very content. We are always dissatisfied. My internet is slow. My burger took six minutes to get here. The microwave is broken. My soda pop wasn’t a large. The waiter took too long to bring the salads. My car is so old. I don’t make enough money. I don’t have very many likes on my last post… and the list could go on and on.

The Bible says there are three types of individuals who will be discontent.

First, a person who is self-centered.

James 4:1-3: “What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.”

We have been told our whole lives that it is all about us. We are asked what makes us feel good, what makes us happy, what is our passion, and then told to just do it. We go around thinking about numero uno. When we are faced with any question or decision, we default to asking how it will impact me. Pros and cons lists focus on us. When we hurt someone else, we are asked “How would you feel if that happened to you?” This teaches us selfishness. A better question is, “How do you think they feel when you do that?”

If life is all about us and our desires, we end up living a shallow life, unable to make deep, meaningful connections with others. Say what you will about Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life, but I love how it starts: “It’s not about you.” The sooner we can stop thinking about ourselves first, the sooner we can start to truly love others and be content with where we are and what we have.

Second, a person who focuses on material things.

Ecclesiastes 5:10: “Those who love money will never have enough. How meaningless to think that wealth brings true happiness!”

This verse is even more profound when you think about who wrote it. Solomon was the wisest (at least at first) and richest person to ever live. Bill Gates and the Walton’s have nothing compared to him. Yet, when he was reaching the end of his life, he looked at all that he “owned” and didn’t find contentment. In fact, the book of Ecclesiastes repeats the refrain that “everything is meaningless!” [Interesting side note, he concludes the book with this bit: “But, my child, let me give you some further advice: be careful, for writing books is endless, and much study wears you out” (Ecclesiastes 12:12)-but I like writing and studying!]

What are you focused on? Making another dollar so you can buy more “stuff”? When you are on your death bed and you look back on your life, you will probably not be talking about how you wish you could have owned ______, but you will wish for more time with people and deeper relationships. Find contentment in your material possessions and invest in people.

Third, a person who refuses to work.

Proverbs 13:4: “Lazy people want much but get little, but those who work hard will prosper.”

Laziness impacts more than your paycheck. It is a sickness that touches all areas of your life. If you are lazy, you will overeat and under exercise. If you are lazy, you will choose TV over your friends and family. If you are lazy, you will choose plagiarism over deep thinking. If you are lazy, you will choose Wikipedia over researching the facts yourself. If you are lazy, you will settle for what the main stream media and Facebook feed you. If you are lazy, you will choose the snooze button over time alone with God. You may even desire the good things, but your laziness will prevent you from those pursuits.

In part two, we will see four consequences to discontent. In part three, we will see areas we are to be content, but for now, focus on being the opposite of the people above. Focus on others, focus on non-material blessings, and work hard. Seek contentment. Seek rest. Seek happiness.

 

You can’t (and shouldn’t try) to be content on your own. Rely on God to help.

 

All Scripture taken from the NLT. © 2015 Tyndale House Foundation. Used with permission.