Riches and contentedness are like two buckets; while one comes up full the other goes down empty.
This is the secret of being content: to learn and accept that we live daily by God’s unmerited favor given through Christ, and that we can respond to any and every situation by His divine enablement through the Holy Spirit.
The very first temptation in the history of mankind was the temptation to be discontent…that is exactly what discontent(ment) is – a questioning of the goodness of God.
The contented person experiences the sufficiency of God’s provision for his needs and the sufficiency of God’s grace for his circumstances. He believes God will indeed meet all his material needs and that He will work in all his circumstances for his good. That is why Paul could say, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” The godly person has found what the greedy or envious or discontented person always searches for but never finds. He has found satisfaction and rest in his soul.
Contentment is one of the most distinguishing traits of the godly person, because a godly person has his heart focused on God rather than on possessions or position or power.
Gratitude is a handmaiden of contentment. An ever-growing attitude of gratitude will certainly make us more content since we will be focusing more on what we do have, both spiritually and materially, than on what we do not have. But contentment is more than focusing on what we have. It is focusing on the fact that all we do have; we have by the grace of God. We do not deserve anything we have, materially or spiritually. It is all by His grace.
The cure for the sin of envy and jealousy is to find our contentment in God.
My brethren, the reason why you have not got contentment in the things of the world is not because you have not got enough of them. That is not the reason. But the reason is because they are not things proportionable to that immortal soul of yours that is capable of God Himself. Many men think that when they are troubled and have not got contentment, it is because they have but a little in the world, and if they had more then they would be content. That is just as if a man were hungry, and to satisfy his craving stomach he should gape and hold open his mouth to take in the wind, and then should think that the reason why he is not satisfied is because he has not got enough of the wind. No, the reason is because the thing is not suitable to a craving stomach.
Christian contentment is that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God’s wise and fatherly disposal in every condition.
A Christian finds satisfaction in every circumstance by getting strength from another, by going out of himself to Jesus Christ, by his faith acting upon Christ and bringing the strength of Jesus Christ into his own soul, he is thereby enabled to bear whatever God lays on him, by the strength that he finds from Jesus Christ. Of His fullness do we receive grace for grace; there is strength in Christ not only to sanctify and save us, but strength to support us under our burdens and afflictions, and Christ expects that when we are under any burden, we should act our faith upon Him to draw virtue and strength from Him.
A Christian comes to contentment, not so much by way of addition, as by way of subtraction. That is his way of contentment, and it is a way that the world has no skill in. I open it thus: not so much by adding to what he would have, or to what he has, not by adding more to his condition; but rather by subtracting from his desires, so as to make his desires and his circumstances even and equal… [A] heart that has no grace, and is not instructed in this mystery of contentment, knows of no way to get contentment, but to have his possessions raised up to his desires; but the Christian has another way to contentment, that is, he can bring his desires down to his possessions, and so he attains his contentment.
A contented man, just as he is the most contented, so he is the most unsatisfied man in the world. You will say, ‘How is that?’ A man who has learned the art of contentment is the most contented with any low condition that he has in the world, and yet he cannot be satisfied with the enjoyment of all the world… though his heart is so enlarged that the enjoyment of all the world and ten thousand worlds cannot satisfy him for his portion; yet he has a heart quieted under God’s disposal.
If the children of God have their little taken from them, they can make up all their wants in God Himself… If anything is cut off from the stream (a godly man) knows how to go to the fountain, and makes up all there. God is his all in all.
Since God is content with Himself alone, if you have Him, you may be content with Him alone, and it may be, that is the reason why your outward comforts are taken from you, that God may be all in all to you. It may be that while you had these things they shared with God in your affection, a great part of the stream of your affection ran that way: God would have the full stream run to Him now.
That sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God’s wise and fatherly disposal in every condition…. It is a work of the Spirit ‘indoors.’ It is a box of precious ointment, very comforting and useful for troubled hearts in times of troubled conditions…. Certainly our contentment does not consist in getting the thing we desire, but in God’s fashioning our spirits to our conditions… To be well-skilled in the mystery of Christian contentment is the duty, glory and excellence of a Christian… That man or woman who is never without a contended spirit, truly can never be said to want much. Oh, the Word holds forth a way full of comfort and peace to the people of God even in this world. You may live happy lives in the midst of all the storms and tempests in the world. There is an ark that you may come into and no men in the world may live such comfortable, cheerful and contented lives as the saints of God. Oh, that we might learn this lesson.
For me, true contentment on earth means asking less of this life because more is coming in the next. Godly contentment is great gain. Heavenly gain. Because God has created the appetites in your heart, it stands to reason that He must be the consummation of that hunger. Yes, heaven will galvanize your heart if you focus your faith not on a place of glittery mansions, but on a Person, Jesus, who makes heaven a home.
To rejoice in another’s prosperity is to give content to your lot; to mitigate another’s grief is to alleviate or dispel your own.
He is much happier that is always content, though he has ever so little, than he that is always coveting, though he has ever so much.
Of all that have tried the selfish experiment, let one come forth and say he has succeeded. He that has made gold his idol, has it satisfied him? He that has toiled in the field of ambition, has he been repaid? He that has ransacked every theater of sensual enjoyment, is he content? Can any answer in the affirmative? Not one!
The person with the discontented heart has the attitude that everything he does for God is too much, and everything God does for him is too little.
We must come back to the soul and to God who made it. We were made for Him, we are meant for Him, we have a correspondence with Him, and we will never come to rest until, like that needle on the compass, we strike that northern point, and there we come to rest – nowhere else.
The sin is not in having more, the sin is being discontent. The sin is not in having wealth, the sin is in what you do with it. It’s not the amount, it’s the attitude… It’s not about what you have, it’s about how you feel about what you have.
The antidote for covetousness is contentment. The two are in opposition. Whereas the covetous, greedy person worships himself, the contented person worships God. Contentment comes from trusting God.
Those who seek to control their own lives will inevitably be frustrated. A confident trust in God’s providence is foundational to contentment.
I would rather be what God chose to make me than the most glorious creature that I could think of; for to have been thought about, born in God’s thought, and then made by God, is the dearest, grandest, and most precious thing in all thinking.
The contented man is never poor, the discontented never rich (George Eliot).
No one person can be the source of your contentment. Contentment comes only from God, and the sooner we start seeking it in Him, the better off we will be (Richard and Sharon Phillips).
Contentment, then, is the product of a heart resting in God. It is the soul’s enjoyment of that peace that passes all understanding. It is the outcome of my will being brought into subjection to the Divine will. It is the blessed assurance that God does all things well, and is, even now, making all things work together for my ultimate good.
Christians can be and ought to be content with the simple necessities of life… First, when you have God near you and for you, you don’t need extra money or extra things to give you peace and security… God is always better than gold… Second, we can be content with the simplicity because the deepest, most satisfying delights God gives us through creation are free gifts from nature and from loving relationships with people. After your basic needs are met, accumulated money begins to diminish your capacity for these pleasures rather than increase them. Buying things contributes absolutely nothing to the heart’s capacity for joy… Third, we should be content with the simple necessities of life because we could invest the extra we make for what really counts (God’s kingdom).
This is God’s universal purpose for all Christian suffering: more contentment in God and less satisfaction in the world.
Money is a self-defeating pursuit. In my efforts to find contentment in money, I actually become more discontent if I love money. The more I believe money will satisfy my needs, the more I will depend on money, only to realize that I never have enough. As long as there is always a new item to purchase, I will never be satisfied or content with what I possess.
Contentment is simply acknowledging that God has given me enough. It is understanding that all of which I have is a gracious and sovereign gift from His hands. It is accepting what the Lord has entrusted to my care with an attitude of gratitude.
The key to contentment is to limit our wants. For starters, we rarely get all that we want. And second, even when we occasionally do, we often want an increase in quality or quantity of that object. Therefore, the more I want, the more I will have to deal with the temptation toward discontentment. Actually, if we can only focus on our needs, that which God does promise to provide, we are guaranteed contentment. “For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content” (1 Tim. 6:7-8).
True biblical love is the solution to the sin of discontentment If we truly love God, we will trust His wise and good care for our lives and thus not doubt or complain. And if we truly love for others, we will not be jealous or covetous toward their blessings. Learn to trust God and rejoice in the blessings of others.
Randy’s Nine Personal Guidelines for Contentment (1 Tim. 6:6):
1. Pursue the gold, not the tin – Remember only Jesus Christ is sufficient to bring the fullness of joy that my heart desires. Anything less is not built to bring me the highest satisfaction. God is not in the business of creating idols (Mt. 13:45-46).
2. Be thankful for what you have – Anything beyond hell is a gift of God’s grace (1 Thes. 5:18).
3. Tame those tastebuds – I won’t want what I don’t know is out there (1 Cor. 9:27).
4. Be wary of commercials – The goal of advertising is to breed discontentment to get me to want something I never thought I needed (1 Tim. 6:9).
5. Prioritize your needs, not your wants – Pursue that which God promises, not that which is seldom received or breeds a desire for more. What does God want me to want (1 Tim. 6:7-8).
6. Know when enough is enough – Does a bigger income always need to translate into a bigger lifestyle (Phil. 4:11-12)?
7. No U-Hails behind hearses – The temporary things don’t last in this life and are definitely not transferred to the next. Pursue what I’ll cherish for an eternity (Mt. 6:19-21).
8. The two greatest commandments – The four sins of discontentment, doubt and complaining against God and jealously and coveting against people, will end when I love God and love others (Mt. 22:38-40).
9. Who’s the boss? – Do I own my stuff or does my stuff own me (1 Cor. 6:12)?
If I realize that the Greatest Being, with the Greatest Power, who cares for me with the Greatest Love, who is empowered by the greatest wisdom who put the Greatest Desires on my heart, is also the Greatest Giver – it will naturally breed in me a spirit of contentment.
You say, “If I had a little more, I should be very satisfied.” You make a mistake. If you are not content with what you have, you would not be satisfied if it were doubled.
The Christian is the most contented man in the world, but he is the least contented with the world. He is like a traveler in an inn, perfectly satisfied with the inn and its accommodation, considering it as an inn, but putting quite out of all consideration the idea of making it his home.
He has great tranquility of heart who cares neither for the praises nor the fault-finding of men. He will easily be content and pacified, whose conscience is pure. You are not holier if you are praised, nor the more worthless if you are found fault with. What you are, that you are; neither by word can you be made greater than what you are in the sight of God.
When a man no longer seeks his comfort from any creature, then he first begins to enjoy God perfectly, and he will be well content with whatever befalls him. Then he will neither rejoice over having much, nor grieve over having little, but will commit himself fully and trustfully to God, who is all in all to him.
If I am not satisfied with what I have, I will never be satisfied with what I want.
The secret of contentment is the realization that life is a gift, not a right.
The richest person is not the one who has the most, but the one who needs the least.
Contentment does not depend on what we have but on Who we have within and on what we have in Him.
Discouragement is dissatisfaction with the past, distaste for the present, and distrust of the future. It is ingratitude for the blessings of yesterday, indifference to the opportunities of today, and insecurity regarding strength for tomorrow. It is unawareness of the presence of beauty, unconcern for the needs of our fellowman, and unbelief in the promises of old. It is impatience with time, immaturity of thought, and impoliteness to God.