Contentment; What Is It?

June 5, 2013

Contentment; What Is It?

Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5).

The text above tells us to be content, but what constitutes contentment?  Can we be content with such things as we have?  I Timothy 6:8 says, “And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.” Is that all it takes to make us content?  Perhaps some would say, it all depends on the quantity and quality of the food and the condition of our habitation and our clothes.

In reality, contentment is a blessing that few in this world enjoy.  We always want something more.  It’s easy to empathize with those who have very little of this world’s goods.  It’s highly unlikely that anyone could honestly say they are content if they live on a starvation diet and don’t know where they will sleep tonight.

At the other extreme are those who, it would seem, have all anyone could want of this world’s goods.  No doubt they are content, no?  Strange as it may seem, many of them aren’t content either.  It’s not unusual to learn that many of them make regular visits to a psychiatrist seeking relief from depression.  They rely on alcohol and tranquilizers to calm their troubled hearts.  Taking this into consideration, we must conclude that contentment isn’t something that can be bought with money.

Contentment can best be explained by saying that it is an attitude.  It has been said “Attitude is everything.” What then is the attitude we should have?  The Apostle Paul says that contentment is something we must learn.  “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content” (Philippians 4:11).  We must learn to trust God.  In Philippians 4:19 Paul said, “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

There is an ideology that says we must share the wealth and bring everyone to the same economic level.  In modern terminology it is “Take from the rich and give it to the poor.” The most elementary level of knowledge of human nature should teach us that that will not produce contentment.  It isn’t God’s definition of contentment.

God reserves the right to give to each as he pleases.  Jesus teaches us that in his parable of the workers in the vineyard in Matthew 20:1-18.   Some complained because they all received the same wages, regardless of the number of hours they worked.  In verse 15 Jesus said, “Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?”

That doesn’t mean that we need not work to better our situation.  Proverbs 10:4 says, “He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich.”  Through circumstances God can, and sometimes does, take from the rich and increase the possessions of the poor.  The attitude we should have is “I belong to God and he has a right to do what he wants to with me.” Once we have acquired that attitude, we too can say with the Apostle Paul, “I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” By means of contentment we can glorify God in poverty as well as in affluence.

God has a plan for our life.  He wants to use us to bring glory to his name.  If our heart’s desire is to please him, and not to please ourselves, then we can be content.  In that situation our joy comes from God and not from the abundance of our possessions.  John 15:11 says, “    These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.”





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