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A Brief Word on Contentment

2016.08.25 - contentment pic - job 1.21

If you could wish for the one thing you want most and have this wish granted, what would be your wish? What is it that you want above all other things?

The Bible speaks quite a bit about what we should want. One point for us to remember as Christians is that we already have everything we need. Anything we want beyond our salvation and perhaps some earthly necessities is really not worth our attention or affections. We should be content to have a saving relationship with God, and when it comes to earthly matters, only the bare essentials should really be our concern.

In contrast to false teachers whose passion is earthly gain, leading to chaos for themselves and others (cf. 1 Tim 6:5), we are to strive for godliness with contentment (1 Tim 6:6). We came into this world with nothing and will leave just the same (1 Tim 6:7). We should be content with food and clothing (1 Tim 6:8), and even if these basic possessions were to be taken away, we should be content with God Himself and bless Him in our suffering and simplicity (Job 1:21; Hab 3:17–19).

Being content with God alone is emphasized in other passages as well. Having little and being righteous is infinitely better than having many goods and being wicked (Ps 37:16; 84:10), especially if it was by wickedness that goods were gained (Prov 16:8). Even if one’s goods are honorably acquired, having little and fearing the Lord is greater than having much and being distracted by the practical demands of tending the treasures of this world (Prov 15:16). The saving presence of God in our lives should be enough (Heb 13:5).

For whatever needs we think should be met, we can present these needs to God in prayer, knowing He will sustain us and give us what is best (Ps 55:22; 1 Pet 5:7). Knowing He knows our needs allows us to be anxious for them no more (Matt 6:25–34).

While we often think of contentment as something to gain when void of this world’s goods, it is a virtue to obtain and exercise when we possess much as well. In Phil 4:11–12, Paul spoke of learning to be content when brought low or facing hunger and need, but his contentment was learned as well when he faced plenty and had abundance. His true joy was found not in what this passing world had to offer but in Christ Himself who strengthened him for service whether or not he fared well in earthly matters (Phil 4:13).

If you should want anything, hunger and thirst for God Himself, and He will satisfy you with Himself (Ps 42:1; Matt 5:6). For all that seems to be missing otherwise in this life, it is simply the absence of something that will pass away with this world in time. “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven….seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt 6:20, 33).


About David Huffstutler

David pastors First Baptist Church in Rockford, IL, serves as a chaplain for his local police department, and teaches as adjunct faculty at Bob Jones University. David holds a Ph. D. in Applied Theology from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. His concentration in Christian Leadership focuses his contributions to pastoral and practical theology.