“Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth.” 1 Timothy 6:6
Contentment: a resting or satisfaction of mind without disquiet; acquiescence.
Since we know the types of people who are discontent and the consequences of discontentment, we now turn our attention to the positive side of contentment. I am convinced that man’s pursuit of more is the main driving force of most (if not all) conflict in the world. We want greater recognition, so we tear down those around us. We want more land or oil, so we start wars. We want more control, so we fight and argue with our spouse. We want a greater reputation, so we manipulate our kids. All of these tensions have to do with discontent. This is one of the main reasons God’s Word puts so much emphasis on our contentment.
The Bible teaches there are 8 areas in which the believer is to be content.
First and second, we are to be content with the food and clothing we have.
1 Timothy 6:8: “So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.”
I do really well with the clothing aspect, it is the food part that gets me. I overeat. I scarf my food down as if I was at Basic Training for the military and given four minutes to eat. This is a major growth area for me. I read a story in a book about a guy who took an hour to eat a PB&J because he would take a bit and chew it for five minutes, savoring every last bite. Not only did he enjoy his food more, he was skinnier because he ate less, and he had amazing conversations around the dinner table because it took forever to eat! He was content with what the good Lord provided. He demonstrated this contentment by slowing down and actually enjoying it. Being content means we rest in the knowledge that God is our provider, He knows what we need and when we need it, and most of us have never gone hungry (not to mention-we could all use to skip a meal or two). The Bible also says in Psalm 34:8 we are to “Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!” Be content!
Third, we are to be content in our marriage status.
1 Corinthians 7:10-17: “But for those who are married, I have a command that comes not from me, but from the Lord. A wife must not leave her husband. But if she does leave him, let her remain single or else be reconciled to him. And the husband must not leave his wife. Now, I will speak to the rest of you, though I do not have a direct command from the Lord. If a fellow believer has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to continue living with him, he must not leave her. And if a believing woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to continue living with her, she must not leave him. For the believing wife brings holiness to her marriage, and the believing husband brings holiness to his marriage. Otherwise, your children would not be holy, but now they are holy. (But if the husband or wife who isn’t a believer insists on leaving, let them go. In such cases the believing husband or wife is no longer bound to the other, for God has called you to live in peace.) Don’t you wives realize that your husbands might be saved because of you? And don’t you husbands realize that your wives might be saved because of you? Each of you should continue to live in whatever situation the Lord has placed you, and remain as you were when God first called you.”
Simply put, if you are married, stay married. Don’t pursue something else if you are unhappy. Don’t commit physical or emotional adultery to meet your selfish needs. Stay married! Stay true to your commitment.
If you are single, stay single (you can get married if the Lord directs your steps in this area-don’t beat yourself up if you are single; I’m sick and tired of people, especially those in the church, treating single people like they have a disease… but that’s a blog for another time). In marriage and singleness, you are to be content and pursue God. Don’t pursue a relationship just to update you Facebook status. Be content!
Fourth, we are to be content with our position at work.
1 Corinthians 7:20-24: “Yes, each of you should remain as you were when God called you. Are you a slave? Don’t let that worry you—but if you get a chance to be free, take it. And remember, if you were a slave when the Lord called you, you are now free in the Lord. And if you were free when the Lord called you, you are now a slave of Christ. God paid a high price for you, so don’t be enslaved by the world. Each of you, dear brothers and sisters, should remain as you were when God first called you.”
Whether you are an employee or manager, be content with where you are placed. Do your best, work as if you are working for the Lord and let the promotions and raises come as they may. Don’t look down on those who are below you and don’t put those above you on a pedestal, they are human just like you. Some of my favorite people that I have ever worked with were content with their position. They worked hard, they had fun, and they exuded joy. The ones I didn’t like working with were those who were always worried or stressed about the next promotion or the next raise. They drove me crazy all the time because they were constantly striving to prove themselves. Now, I’m not saying there is anything wrong with wanting a promotion or raise, but don’t let it be your primary motivation. Some of the most enriching jobs I have had have been ones that I feel content in. When I was a server, I enjoyed my work more (and got better tips) when I was content with my shift and the tables I was given, and sought to be the best server the patrons have ever had. Be content!
Fifth, be content with the wages you earn.
Luke 3:14: “’What should we do? asked some soldiers. John replied, ‘Don’t extort money or make false accusations. And be content with your pay.’”
There are lots of groups of people that deserve better pay. Teachers, police officers, firefighters, EMS personnel, stay-at-home mothers… But I can’t think of anyone more deserving of better pay than those who serve in the military. Yet, we learn they are to be content with their pay. And so are we. Work hard, do your best, strive to become a better employee and servant, and you will learn the biblical principle that “Those who work deserve their pay!” Don’t jump around from job to job chasing a dollar or two more per hour. I remember when I was in high school, I threatened to quit every six months if I didn’t a raise. My attitude sucked. I was not fun to work with, and I’m sure my manager wanted to strangle me. I was miserable. When I went to work for a company where I had NO say in my wages and no amount of threatening to quit would result in a raise, I was happier (there were still other areas where I was discontent, but in this regard, I was content), more motivated at work, and felt better about the quality of work I did. Be content!
Sixth, we are to be content with the money we have.
Proverbs 15:16: “Better to have little, with fear for the Lord, than to have great treasure and inner turmoil.”
This is one of the hardest ones for me. I can make all sorts of excuses about how I live in the US and materialism is a way of life. The American Dream is the pursuit of wealth, right? But what I have seen is that it doesn’t matter how much money I have in the bank, how nice and new my cars are, or how big my house is, none of them lead to contentment. In fact, most of the new toys actually bring more headache. When I learn to be content with the money I have, I am able to say no to things that don’t really matter and yes to the most important things. It is free to go to the park with my daughter. It is free to sit on the porch and drink lemonade with my wife. It is free to go for a walk in the mountains. It is free to sit around a campfire with friends. Be content!
Seventh, we are to be content with our possessions.
Hebrews 13:5: “Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have.”
This one is closely tied into the previous area of contentment so I won’t spend much time here. But, I will say that contentment with the possessions you have brings a lot of freedom. You don’t need the newest toy or the latest gadget. There is a growing “trend” to simplify your life. This is a good thing. We don’t need all of the “stuff” we have. My wife and I have moved 17 times in the last 14 years. I hate moving. But one good thing is it has killed any hoarding gene I may have (with one exception: books…). My wife is a Rockstar when it comes to simplicity. I am forever grateful for her lifestyle of contentment with possessions. In fact, her goal is to downsize so much that we can pack everything up in an hour and move if we have to. Outside of my library, we probably could. There is a line in the move “Fight Club” that is classic: “The things we own end up owning us.” Don’t let this happen. Be content!
Finally, we are to be content in whatever situation we find ourselves.
Philippians 4:11-12: “Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.”
We all face different situations, but we are still to be content. This doesn’t mean we stay in the situation, but we look for why God may have placed us there. What does He want us to learn? What does He want us to do? Who does He want us to minister to? We are there for a reason. What is the God-reason?
All of these issues of contentment come back to whether or not we truly believe God is our provider. If so, we will trust Him to provide exactly what we need, when we need it, in His way. We will do our part to be faithful to the opportunities God provides and trust Him with our contentment.
All Scripture taken from the NLT. © 2015 Tyndale House Foundation. Used with permission.