The Lost Art Of Contentment

The Lost Art Of Contentment October 10, 2018

Are you having difficulty in being content with life? Here’s some biblical help.

State of Mind

When I think about contentment, and the question comes to me, “Is the glass half empty or half full,” typically, my response is, “I’m just glad I have a glass!” Besides, isn’t it both? Whether it’s half empty or half full is not an issue for me because, at least I have a glass! Contentment is a choice, and it’s not something we naturally gravitate to. Contentment is a state of mind, or putting things into perspective. And contentment can keep us out of a lot of trouble. The opposite of being contented is being in a state of discontentment, and no one wants to live under that tent. Solomon wrote that “A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention” (Prov 15:18). Slow, calm, and well-thought out responses can quite contention, just as anger can incite it. During John the Baptist’s ministry, “Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages” (Luke 3:14). Ahh…now we’re starting to get somewhere. Being content with what we have is a start. One example is being content with our wages or finances. The Apostle Paul had good reason to feel discontented, being the most severely persecuted of all the apostles. He wrote, “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor 12:10). Paul was content, even with these hardships, because he knew it was for Christ’s name’s sake that he suffered.

Contentment’s a Choice

Contentment is definitely something that we chose, however, as I wrote earlier, it doesn’t come naturally. The Apostle Paul told Timothy that “if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content” (1 Tim 6:8). Being contented is pleasing to God. Paul writes that “godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Tim 6:6), showing it is precious in God’s sight, but it’s something we have to pursue, so how can we be content in difficult circumstances? First of all, “if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.” Many people in the world are homeless, have little clothing, and scratch out a living every day. For many, there is never enough to eat, so it’s a struggle to just get through the day, so when our contentment is dependent upon our circumstances, our contentment can come and go, and be as volatile as the stock market. Life can become a pendulum, swinging from one extreme to the other. By putting things into perspective, If we can see just how much most of us have been blessed with compared to the rest of the world, our perspective will change. It’ll be easier to stop associating our circumstances with our true contentment found in Christ. The author of Hebrews nails much of what we know about contentment, writing that we should “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb 13:5). If we keep our lives free from the love of money, we’ll take a huge step toward being contented, however, if we feel we never have enough money, we almost certainly will not be content.

Learning Contentment

Contentment is a choice, but there’s a way you can learn how to be content. As I said before, it doesn’t come naturally, but Paul learned how to do it, and so can we. Paul endured many a hardship, so he had a lot of experience with suffering, and he wrote, “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need” (Phil 4:12). How was Paul able to be content through all this? He said “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content” (Phil 4:11b). In other words, whatever situation he was in (hunger, cold, hot, thirst, stoning’s, imprisonment), he learned how to be content, but how did he learn it? First, he had a lot of opportunities to suffer, but he also knew he was suffering for his faith, and particularly, sharing the faith. Paul knew that he needed Christ, writing, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Phil 4:13). That also means he could do nothing without Christ (John 15:5). He learned that it was through Christ’s strengthening him in times of deep despair that enabled Paul to be content. Even in great difficulty, he still had to have the frame of mind to be content, but this was not something he could do on his own. He needed help. And he got it! Paul was not surprised by this suffering. Jesus had already told him he was going to suffer many things for His name’s sake (Acts 9:16, 14:22), which is why he said, “as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities” (2 Cor 6:4), thus it is “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor 12:10).

The Unsearchable Riches

Paul was content with “weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities,” but sometimes we’re discontented because we can’t find a good parking space or someone’s driving too slowly ahead of us. Whatever the case, if we allow circumstances to determine our contentment, we are not recognizing just how much we’ve been blessed with “the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph 3:8b). When we recognize that we have such a precious pearl of great price, we should feel compelled “to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places” (Eph 3:9-10). The main thing is the plain thing, and the plain thing is, we are saved by grace and not by works, but we are also saved for works, and these works are to glorify God (John 15:8; Eph 2:8-10).

Conclusion

A lack of contentment can lead to addictions. The Book of Job says, “Because he knew no contentment in his belly, he will not let anything in which he delights escape him” (John 20:20). Whatever it is that we don’t have enough of, there’ll be no contentment, because it seems that it always takes just a little bit more. To be content, we first of all must be at peace with God, and there is no peace with God until we’ve made peace with God through Jesus Christ (Rom 5:1). This means the condemnation has been lifted (Rom 8:1). We can now be content in Christ because we’re accepted by God in Christ. If all you have is Christ, then you have all you need. I would say abundantly more than you’ll ever need, and that should leave you feeling quite contented.

Article by Jack Wellman

Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is a writer at Christian Quotes and also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.

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  • pud

    The least content people are religious cultists like yourself who are yoked with your false narrative of being guilty, shameful, dirty, worthy of death, from birth no less etc. You live under a constant illusion of perpetual surveillance, judgement, and fear.You are willful slaves to an imaginary, invisible undetectable agent who stands ready to torture you for eternity should you fail to comply with his egotistical maniacal demands. You have surrendered your critical thinking skills and so cannot reason correctly about anything. You are a servant, a slave on constant guard under constant self scrutiny perpetually apologizing to the empty voices in your head. You cannot be content because you are unwell, mentally ill, shackled to imaginary monsters from the Bronze Age. Sad jack…very sad. Do seek help

  • Glory

    It is interesting to note that Jacob said all he needed was his food and raiment long before Paul did in Genesis 28.

    20And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, 21So that I come again to my father’s house in peace; then shall the LORD be my God: 22And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God’s house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee.

    Also Jesus Christ is a Christian’s spiritual food, spiritual clothing and spiritual habitation.

    Greed will keep you in a state of discontent always wanting and striving for more.

    But with Christ there is great gain.

    It is also interesting to note that it takes two people to argue. If you leave when the argument arises then you cannot become embroiled in the other person’s discontent. It takes self control to avoid angry people. But why engage them? Christ said anger is murder in the heart and most human anger is not the righteousness of God.
    So keep the peace and don’t argue. Peacemaking starts with you being able to maintain a peaceful state. You don’t always have to get the last word if you can walk away from evil.

    God Will Make A Way, Dan Moen
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=1zo3fJYtS-o

    • You don’t have any peace within. Why not try a breath meditation? You could find the peace that you are longing for. No religious gurus, no holy books, no religious services nor any religion at all are required. Become an atheist and find the peace within by becoming “born of the breath”. Breathe in compassion and breathe out peace. Sam Harris, the neuroscientist and atheist, could help you. No fantasy figure called jesus is needed. Just write to Sam Harris.

    • There is no such thing as “spiritual food, spiritual clothing, spiritual habitation”. You are living in your make believe world. You need to write to Richard Dawkins and find out the truth relating to all the bullsh!t that you espouse.

  • Glory

    Wow another poster who I have on block popped up behind me. Probably to try and force another argument when I already said I try not to argue. Why should I when I can encourage and exhort people instead. That is a rhetorical question by the way.

    I am not lifting the block to see who the discontented person is because curiosity killed the cat.

    I have already tried to reason with hundreds of discontented atheists and all they ever did was shower me with their discontent trying to deconvert me and make me like them while they engaged in intellectual pissing contests showing off what they thought was higher intelligence.

    But I do not regard that as the highest intelligence as it lacks social intelligence.

    So I will stick even closer to God hoping to become even more socially intelligent like God tells us to be in 1 Cor. 13. Spiritual love is social intelligence in my book so the discontented proud people online I must block so they don’t drag me down into their discontented state. Secret anxieties and fears can prompt all sorts of aberrant discontented behavior like trying to control others and arguing all the time. These people need to face their own fears not argue with me.

    If they had Jesus they could handle inner turmoil better but they don’t have him. So they are not embroiling me any further in their turmoil. I am going to enjoy my abundant living that God promised me for a while.

    • pud

      No, you do not “reason” you “assert” and “claim” and babble ridiculous quotes. A person capable of “reason” demonstrates evidence for their claims and is open to being wrong. You just put your fingers in your ears, cover your eyes and continue on your merry delusional way

    • pud

      Your “abundant way” eh? What about all those praying mothers who will watch their children die of hunger and disease today? Is your “god” just too busy showering you with goodies and giving you driving lessons?

    • Jesus is dead, so he can’t handle your inner turmoil. You need to find peace within. You don’t have any. Your holy book won’t give you any either. The best use that you could make for it is toilet paper. Just breathe slowly!

  • Guestie

    ” I have had my say and am out of here for good.” ~ commenter Glory, 6 days ago.

    • You can’t believe anything that she says.

      lying all the time, lying all the time, lying for jesus beams of love divine. Glorifying him, every day and hour, lying all the time for jesus.

  • pud

    The abuse of children….religious indoctrination.

    CAUTION! Contains logic, reason and other rational arguments

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RlbUw5hjeKI

    • Glory

      Your post demanding I demonstrate the existence of God squeaked by my last block.

      I told you I was sick and you callously and deliberately attempted to order me to perform like a circus lion.

      Now here is my challenge to you if you are man enough to perform it and get your own evidence.

      It is not my responsibility to provide you with evidence YOU need so YOU get it!

      Here is the challenge let’s see if you are brave enough to get over your innate lazy skepticism to get it:

      One more thing since you atheists like testable and repeatable then change your avatar name and go onto an atheist blog, do your best imitation of a wonderful Christian and deliver the Gospel and see what kind of reception atheists give you.

      That is how you know the Christians are the better people and God is actually changing them.

      Christians are a lot more loving and tolerant to people different from themselves as a group than atheists are.

      So grow a set of balls, acquire your false identities and go test and repeat a couple of dozen times at least. There are many atheist blogs on Patheos and on the Net so go experience their social savagery first hand then compare it to how Christians treat people.

      Do it! Perform this test or get off this blog and shut up!

      It should only take a year or two to perform the tests because atheists have short fuses and will ban you early.

      You wanted testable and repeatable over a holy, loving, life giving relationship with God.

      See how your cohorts receive you as a God loving, obedient, outspoken Christian.

      You are back on block! No arguments! Get your own evidence!

      • pud

        LOL! You are a coward and raging lunatic who should be on heavy duty medication

        • Glory

          You are the coward because you did not accept the challenge.

          You probably lack the human observational skills to interpret the evidence so you submit everything to science like a know nothing.

          You would rather test than experience and use your own mind.

          Hence you lack discernment and anybody who lacks discernment should not be attempting to counsel anybody.

          Goodbye chicken! Cluck, cluck.

          I carried the Gospel onto atheist blogs and I know firsthand and repeatedly what you social savages do.

          Have a blessed day!

          • Isn’t it you who is the social savage? You base your ideas on a holy book that was written by ancient, ignorant, bloodthirsty, barbaric and very violent savages who created a god in their own image. This ‘bloody’ book is affecting you too much. You need to breathe in compassion slowly and then breathe out peace slowly. Throw your book in the waste paper basket or use it for toilet paper.

        • She’s a raging lunatic. She is so far “up herself” that she doesn’t seem to realize how her sanctimonious crap turns people off: not just atheists and agnostics but even some Christians are turned off by her grossly over rated opinion of herself.

  • Glory

    Wow I have 9 blocked posts from atheist dissenters so there is hardly anyone to hold a decent conversation with on here just angry trolls.

    I don’t want to develop a critical spirit from dealing too much with angry, unspiritual people and I got tired of observing their xenophobic, narcissistic, manipulative, self serving and psychopathic ways online so I am off back to study more Biblical topics and feed my spirit.

    Sorry, you lose atheists. I won’t be manipulated into going down to your level.
    Please do as Jesus admonishes and get the beam out of your eyes.

    Seriously, as nasty name calling trolls how can you continue to be so self delusional that you continue to deny the existence of sin?

    That makes you deliberately irresponsible as well because Jesus would have dealt with your sin and made a new creation out of you.

    I hope you weak willed atheists who like to take your rage out on people and try to force your unbelief down other people’s throats wake up, smell the coffee and take the correction.

    May His Grace Abound To You Scoffers!

    I am off to greener pastures and will be devoting more time to a deeper knowledge of the Bible and people with teachable spirits.

    I spent many years observing the atheists psychology of religion and found it to be disturbing.

    Take a hint from Jesus atheists and stop misstereotyping believers and get the beam out of your own eyes. You personify sin but God made you for better things so start to meditate deeply and repent to help Jesus deal with the reality that you are indeed sinners like every other person ever born with the exception of Jesus.

    What you wanted to be special?

    Well you are not. Not without Jesus so take this exhortation to heart.

    • Why are you so far “up yourself”? Or are you just a lunatic who desperately needs psychiatric help? You do realize that all your religious “bullsh!t” isn’t worth a crumpet, don’t you? How about getting the beam out of your own eye, you sanctimonious creep.

  • Glory

    One more thing since you atheists like testable and repeatable then change your avatar name and go onto an atheist blog, do your best imitation of a wonderful Christian and deliver the Gospel and see what kind of reception atheists give you.

    That is how you know the Christians are the better people and God is actually changing them.

    Christians are a lot more loving and tolerant to people different from themselves as a group than atheists are.

    So grow a set of balls, acquire your false identities and go test and repeat a couple of dozen times at least. There are many atheist blogs on Patheos and on the Net so go experience their social savagery first hand then compare it to how Christians treat people.

    Do it! Perform this test or get off this blog and shut up!

    It should only take a year or two to perform the tests because atheists have short fuses and will ban you early.

    You wanted testable and repeatable over a holy, loving, life giving relationship with God.

    See how your cohorts receive you as a God loving, obedient, outspoken Christian.

  • Glory

    A last gift to the last few true Christians frequenting the blog:

    Our Father’s Message:
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=qpSE3eZTCNo

    The atheists are social savages so they want testable and repeatable rather than a love promoting work in the human heart that is performed by God. He helps us tend to our own hearts by the admonishments and encouragements that He gives in scripture.

    The unbelievers and skeptics opted to stay spiritual orphans. Probably a lot of them were trained to suppress their perception and gut instinct and people skills in favor of logic and science but there are those scientists who retained their perception and belief in spite of their science training.

    Don’t let these “arguments” coming from who knows who make you disloyal to Jesus.

    We know we have the best Father in the universe and men of dubious character cannot dissuade us with their deceptive misassumptions cleverly disguised as being reasonable.

    It is not reasonable to deny what God has done for us especially when the change for the better character in many Christians is observable.

    Christianity shaped the West. Why do so many want to emigrate to the West to receive our blessings if we aren’t God’s children?

    Keep your humility though. Don’t let the knowledge that you belong to the greatest family on Earth, God’s family, go to your head. You still have a course to run throughout this life and will need every ounce of love and humility to do that.

    May His Grace Abound To You!

  • Guestie

    “If pud doesn’t get banned then I am leaving.” commenter Glory, 9 days ago.

    • Glory

      Goodbye. Here is my challenge to you atheist before leaving.

      One more thing since you atheists like testable and repeatable then change your avatar name and go onto an atheist blog, do your best imitation of a wonderful Christian and deliver the Gospel and see what kind of reception atheists give you.

      That is how you know the Christians are the better people and God is actually changing them.

      Christians are a lot more loving and tolerant to people different from themselves as a group than atheists are.

      So grow a set of balls, acquire your false identities and go test and repeat a couple of dozen times at least. There are many atheist blogs on Patheos and on the Net so go experience their social savagery first hand then compare it to how Christians treat people.

      Do it! Perform this test or get off this blog and shut up!

      It should only take a year or two to perform the tests because atheists have short fuses and will ban you early.

      You wanted testable and repeatable over a holy, loving, life giving relationship with God.

      See how your cohorts receive you as a God loving, obedient, outspoken Christian.

    • Glory

      Back on block. You should be on an atheist blog or grow a set of balls and do the testable and repeatable character test as I wrote below.

      Otherwise you are just blowing hot air about wanting evidence.

      Go find out for yourself the Militant Society of the Godless mentality that is still alive and well in the new atheists.

    • Glory

      And that wasn’t promised Troll Guestie.

    • Glory

      How brave you are smart mouthing Christians who are much kinder than atheists as a group.

      Concerning the issue of atheism and charity, charitable giving by atheists and agnostics in America is significantly less than by theists, according to a study by the Barna Group:

      “ The typical no-faith American donated just $200 in 2006, which is more than seven times less than the amount contributed by the prototypical active-faith adult ($1500). Even when church-based giving is subtracted from the equation, active-faith adults donated twice as many dollars last year as did atheists and agnostics. In fact, while just 7% of active-faith adults failed to contribute any personal funds in 2006, that compares with 22% among the no-faith adults.[2]

      Quote above from “atheism and charity” on Conservapedia.

      • Guestie

        I didn’t think you were smart-mouthing anyone in that direct quotation of something you wrote.

        Regardless, I wasn’t addressing you. You don’t need to respond to me. I don’t read your comments. It merely amuses me that you keep commenting after you’ve promised everyone else you won’t.