Contentment is mentioned in the Bible seven times and six of those times it has to do with money.
Contentment is in pretty short supply in our country, because the advertising industry tries to create discontent in our lives. We live in a consumer society that operates on the assumption that more is always better and happiness is based on how much we can accumulate. Any time a new tech toy comes out there are lines wrapping around buildings and people camping out overnight just to be the first to get the item of the week.
Yet what you see among those who are really wealthy is that money and possessions are no indicator of whether or not a person is really content. And what’s especially sad about this is that discontent often leads us to use debt to buy things we don’t need and things that will never fully satisfy us.
Have you ever bought something you really wanted and after you finally got it, it did not make you as happy as you thought it would? Suddenly you see the same thing in a different color and the one you purchased in no longer good enough. Or the next month a newer version comes out and the one you bought last month is no longer adequate.
Do you often think that living in a nicer house would make you happy? Have you ever felt that if only you had a new car then you’d finally be satisfied? Have you ever dreamed that making more money would make you fulfilled?
If you’re not content with what you have, you’ll never be content with what you want, even if you get the nicer home, the newer car or more money. There is always something else to attain.
It’s not that we shouldn’t try to improve ourselves. We should. As stewards of God’s possessions and the talents we’ve been given, we should always seek to improve in all areas. But the effort to improve our situation should never outpace a feeling of contentment and gratitude for our current situation.
Paul wrote Philippians 4:11-13 from a prison cell and he said, “Not that I say this because of need, for I have learned, in whatever situation I find myself, to be self-sufficient. I know indeed how to live in humble circumstances; I know also how to live with abundance. In every circumstance and in all things I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry, of living in abundance and of being in need. I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me.”
Paul learned to be content—while in jail. It’s not an instinct that comes naturally to most people. If you struggle with being content, put Philippians 4:11-13 on an index card and post it on your bathroom mirror so you can meditate on it every day. Ask the Lord to help you become content. Ask him to help you be satisfied and grateful for what you do have instead of spending your time yearning for all the things you don’t have.
None of us are not born content; rather, we learn it. The foundation of contentment is understanding that God is the owner of everything we have and we are simply stewards. This attitude helps separate ourselves from the materialistic focus of our society.
Here are a few ideas for ways to become content:
- Establish a reasonable standard of living. Decide how much is enough and stop when you have reached your goal.
- Become a generous giver. Being generous is probably the main antidote for discontent.
- Develop an attitude or gratitude by consciously thanking God every day in prayer.
- Change your language. Substitute the word “the” for “my” and “mine.” Instead of referring to MY car, use the term THE car.
- Learn the difference between needs (food, clothing and shelter) and wants (the latest tech toys, newest fashions, late model car, etc.)
- Stop comparing your self to others. Sometimes what you see on the outside is not what is on the inside. We’ve known many people who seemed to live an affluent lifestyle that was funded by massive debt.
Contentment is being satisfied that God has provided exactly what we need today—whether it’s a lot or a little. This does not mean that we shouldn’t try to improve our situation. It does mean we need to be grateful to the Lord for what he has provided today.
Contentment is an inner peace that accepts what God has chosen for our present situation.
Wealth isn’t bad, but it can be very dangerous spiritually. 1 Tim 6:8- says, “If we have food and clothing, we shall be content with that.”
Verse 9 goes on to say “Those who want to be rich are falling into temptation and into a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge them into ruin and destruction.”
And verse 10 warns us WHY wanting to get rich is so harmful: “For the love of money is the root of all evils, and some people in their desire for it have strayed from the faith and have pierced themselves with many pains.”
Loving money and always yearning for more and more is a sure way to remain discontent.