“Life isn’t fair…” Typically when those words are said, it’s when we don’t get our way; but in reality, life isn’t fair. Why were we born in the US and not in an undeveloped country? Why do we have so much while those people have so little? Why do we have access to a good education, clean water and basic sanitation? Why are we so lucky?
God isn’t concerned about fairness, at least not in the way we would define fairness. However, God desires for us to see, understand and experience contentment. We may never be able to comprehend why we have so much, while those in poverty stricken third-world countries seem to have so little. But gaining an attitude of contentment is within our grasp. Being able to recognize, appreciate and praise God’s work in our lives is something we can do regardless of what we possess or the circumstances we face.
To understand how we can find contentment in our own lives, we must first define it’s meaning:
1.) He is All You Need
While writing to his young disciple Timothy, Paul describes contentment as a sense of inward sufficiency. He claimed that contentment didn’t come from his own self, his own stuff or his own accomplishments, but a satisfaction of his faith in Christ. 1 Timothy 6:6 says, “But godliness with contentment is great gain.” Christ is enough; He is all you need. Contentment is NOT about being happy, satisfied or full of joy, but it comes from the fulfillment of the Holy Spirit. God gives each of us the strength and dignity to be content with our life, because we have nothing without Christ.
But godliness with contentment is great gain.
1 Timothy 6:6
2.) Contentment Isn’t Determined by Situations
In Philippians 4:11-13 Apostle Paul writes, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” Just like the rest of us, Paul needed to work toward finding his contentment. During his ministry, Paul was blinded, beaten to near death, imprisoned, shipwrecked, persecuted; he endured tremendous hardship. But, over time, through prayer, thanksgiving and recognition of God’s provision, Paul discovered that his contentment was independent of his circumstances and was instead based on God’s goodness and love. Paul had experienced major highs and extreme lows, but found contentment in all situations because he relied on God who gave him strength. So often, when we’re in the best of situations and everything seems to be going perfectly, we find ourselves dissatisfied. But when we’re down or things just don’t seem to go our way, this is when we discover God’s goodness.
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
3.) Contentment Doesn’t Come Through Material Possessions
The Bible implores us to trust God for our provision and avoid the self-made prison of materialism. Materialism can steal our contentment. Hebrews 13:5 says, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you’.” By seeking fulfillment in things rather than in God, we are relying on something fleeting – here today, gone tomorrow. The satisfaction of a possession that we own decreases over time, so our reliance on things creates a need or burden for more. The more things we own, the more time we spend taking care of and maintaining our possessions. In the end our stuff actually ends up owning us. If we learn to seek contentment in materials, we become self-focused. Our self-ambitions and self-righteousness tends to lead us toward temptation or sin. 1 Timothy 6:10 claims, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
1 Timothy 6:10
Seeking contentment in anything other than Christ will only lead us further away from the Almighty. Being content doesn’t mean that we need to throw away all our possessions and “live off of the land.” Finding contentment doesn’t mean that we need to experience a perpetual mission trip or spend every day in church worshipping God. Contentment comes from recognizing that God placed us here on earth for a reason: He gave us gifts, talents and material possessions to use for His good and His glory. God is with us always, so we need to be satisfied and humble in His presence so we can offer ourselves to Him in service as we walk through good times and bad. We are adequate, competent and capable of great things. God wants us to find pleasure in Him because our value is in Him.
Photos by Tiffany Scott