One of the things that convicts me every time I visit pastors in another country is how much they love to study God’s Word and share what they learn with others. These are usually men who have nothing materially other than the basic necessities and a copy of the Bible.
As I write this I am in the country of Ethiopia. I spent yesterday afternoon praying with four pastors. One is blind, one deaf, one with serious heart problems and the fourth seems to be doing well physically. These four men, along with many other good men here, are doing all they can to learn from God so that they can reach their country and other nations for the Lord.
None of them have much in the way of material goods. Yet, they love the Lord. They have a great satisfaction with what God has granted them and they are honestly thankful for their conditions. They each praise God for His goodness to them.
What can we learn from those who are content?
Trust that God has a plan and a reason for everything (Romans 8:28). Even if we do not see the reason or understand the way He is working, God still has a plan. When we try to force God into our plans, then we will be frustrated and lack contentment.
Have you ever made plans at work and had your supervisor come in and change your schedule for the day? Even if you knew that the new plans were the right thing for the company, it is frustrating to have your goals adjusted by other people. However, if you will submit your plans and schedule (or your will) to your supervisor’s control, then you will experience less frustration when you can trust their judgment over your own.
That is exactly the way we should be with God. Trust that He knows what is best and that His goals are the right ones. This is what the book of James talks about in chapter 4.
Accept God’s Provisions
In Philippians 4:11 and 12 Paul says that he learned to be content with the things God provided. Nowhere does the Bible say that to be a good Christian you have to suffer physically and with great poverty. However, to be a great Christian you should be willing to do so if God calls you to it. Paul said that he was content with the ups and downs he saw in the ministry because he knew God would provide.
Contentment Can Be Learned
Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. (Philippians 4:11-12)
I believe that when you realize contentment can be learned, you are well on your way to experiencing the contentment God has for you. Paul says, in the above verses from Philippians, that he learned to be content. He didn’t say he had always been content, but it was a trait he learned.
Paul did not always have an easy life. We know he spent time in prison for the sake of the Gospel. He apparently had a physical limitation that he asked the Lord to take away from him in 2 Corinthians 12. He was not always content with that ailment, but he accepted the Lord’s answer.
Maybe you have struggled with contentment in the past. Take comfort in the fact that contentment can be learned.
The Bible talks often about serving others. When we do this we stop focusing on our own problems and needs and begin fulfilling the needs of others.
I love hosting, leading or participating in mission trips. One thing that is consistent with those on the trip is that they say they are going to be a blessing to others. And, just as consistently, their testimony after the trip is that they received a greater blessing than they could have possibly been to someone else.
When you serve others you will have greater contentment.
Contentment Is Not Found In Things
Many times we think that if we had a little bit more of the thing we desire then we would be content. For you it may be money or better health. Some people are looking for a bigger house or a longer vacation. Yet contentment is not dependent on what you have, it is an attitude.
If you cannot be content with $5 extra spending money, then you probably would not be content if you had $20. That is four times the amount of money you previously had available. But your contentment is not determined by the things you have.
This does not mean that you should never try harder to better your financial state or acquire nicer things, but don’t fall into the trap of thinking that better things will make you content. Contentment comes from trusting God for what you have now and asking His help so that you can do more in the future with what He has granted.
Attitude, Not State Of Being
As stated previously, don’t think you will be content when you have more and more. That is not the source of contentment. Contentment is an attitude you have and not an amount of money you possess.
Paul told Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:6-10 that contentment is something completely separate from a desire to have more money. In fact, loving things and a desire to be rich will drive you away from an attitude of contentment.
Contentment In Salvation
I know there are non-Christians who claim they are content, but I can’t imagine that they could possibly experience the contentment of a Christian. I have people say to me all the time, “I bet your work is very rewarding to you.” Honestly, I derive my satisfaction from knowing my position in Christ, not because of my work for others. I do enjoy serving others the way I do, but I do this out of gratitude for my Savior, not because of some great reward that serving others provides me.
Hebrews 13:5 and 6 remind us that we have a Savior who will sustain us in all things. It does not say that only in good times will our Savior provide us protection and contentment, but at all times.
Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me. (Hebrews 13:5-6)
I trust these seven tips for living a contented life have been a help to you. Trust the Lord for your eternal life in the future and your daily life today. When you place your hope and trust in Him then you will find more contentment.
Looking for some more advice and tips for the Christian? Check out these articles:
The Holy Bible, King James Version
YouTube video “Complete” by Parachute Band