Gospel attitudes about wealth – Contentment

Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.  but if we have food or clothing, with these we will be content.  1 Timothy 6:6-8

My wife Heidi and I were reading this passage together the other day, and she said something that actually bothered both of us.  She noticed that Paul said that if he had food and clothing, we was content.  What Heidi pointed out that he did not say food and shelter.  Somehow, Paul had learned to be content in this life even if he did not have a roof over his head.  I think I would have been much more comfortable with this passage if he would have included a nice home in the mix.

Of the four attitudes I have discussed in this short series of blogs, I think contentment is the most difficult to define and the hardest to grasp.  It is so elusive.  It seems that I go through periods when God teaches me just a little about contentment in life, and I am starting to learn, and just about that time I end up walking into Sams with their 52 inch flat screen HDTV’s that are right up by the guy who checks your membership card, and everything I though I’d learned about contentment flies right out the window, as I begin to drool and be mesmerized by the bright, pretty picture.  Not sure about you, but I have such a hard time knowing when it is OK to want something and to purchase upgrades to things I have in life.  Add to this the constant barrage of advertising that caters to my coveting heart, and I find it difficult to be content with what I have.

The key issue, when thinking about contentment, is discovering the source for deep soul satisfaction.  As long as I believe, on any level, that the latest HDTV, the coolest I-Phone, the trendiest J-Crew clothes, or the fastest car will bring satisfaction to my life, contentment will be elusive.  I will only be content when Christ is my all-consuming passion and I get all satisfaction from Him.  Contentment means that I live in a continual attitude of thanksgiving, realizing that everything I have is a blessing from God for my enjoyment, while also remembering that things make lousy gods.  The very book we are studying, Ecclesiastes, has several passages encouraging people to enjoy the blessings God has given, but not to pursue those things in an attempt to find joy.  Contentment is a gospel attitude because it produces joy.

The best, and quickest way to nurture contentment is to spend time with people who are less fortunate.  Serve meals in a soup kitchen.  Help people whose lives have been devistated by a disaster.  Find a way to help the homeless.  If you want to make it a crazy adventure, go to a place like Haiti and do missions among the poor. Find ways to recognize the incredible blessings God has given, and be thankful for what you have, rather than always wanting more.  Only then will a person actually be able to enjoy things.  Here are some passages of Scripture that address contentment.

  • Exodus 20:17
  • Proverbs 23:4-5
  • 1 Timothy 6:6-8
  • Philippians 4:11-13
  • Hebrews 13:5
  • Psalm 37:5-9, 16
  • Ecclesiastes 5:10
  • Proverbs 17:1
  • Ecclesiastes 2:24
  • Ecclesiastes 9:7-9
  • Luke 3:10-14

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