The world’s definition of contentment is much different from how God defines it. The world describes someone who is content as someone who is happy and satisfied in their life. The Biblical definition of contentment is something quite different. It’s realizing God is in control, that His plan is better than yours, and seeks to follow His will for your life. Biblical contentment doesn’t necessarily mean that we will be happy. Biblical contentment doesn’t mean that we will be in great health and wealth and that we will be without troubles, but it does mean that we will accept the situation the Lord has placed us in and seek to honor and glorify Him right where He has us. One of the Bible’s most recognized verses is Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” For some context of what Paul means in this verse, we must look back to verse 11. Paul says he has “learned in whatever situation” to be content. In verse 12, Paul says that he has experienced it all. That he “knows how to be brought low, and how to thrive.” And then he says this, “I have learned the secret of facing plenty, and hunger, abundance, and need.” That secret? Contentment. We can learn contentment by drawing on Christ’s power for strength in all of our circumstances.
A post on contentment would not be complete without the story of Job. The book of Job is a tough read for Christ followers, especially if you struggle with being content. Job was one of the richest men of his day. He was described as a blameless and upright man who feared God and shunned evil (Job 1:8). Satan believed Job loved God solely because of his great wealth and prosperity, so God allowed Satan to test Job’s obedience. Job lost his wealth, his possessions, his children, and his health. Job grieved his losses, yet he never doubted God or questioned Him. Job kept his faith because He was content with God. Job’s reply upon hearing the death of his children in Chapter 1:21: “Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Through all his trials, Job did not sin or get angry with God. Job kept his focus on the Lord regardless of his circumstances. We are content when we can acknowledge God’s authority in our lives and when we can worship Him for who He is, regardless of what He gives to us, or takes away.
Being content requires faith in and focus on God. Philippians 4:19 says, “My God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” When we take our focus off what God has done for us, and what He’s given to us (our blessings from Him), our focus wanders to our own selfish wants. Focus off God means focus on us. And not considering His blessings means observing what we think we may be missing out on that others have. Our world delights in telling us what we need and what will make us happy, and it can be very convincing, but we have the strength that Paul tells us about in Philippians 4:13 to learn to be content.
God’s Word promises that He will take care of us and give us just what we need. Jesus teaches us about worrying in Matthew 6:31-33: “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
Focusing on God through contentment allows Him to work in ways that we could never imagine. Paul in 1 Timothy 6:6 says, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” This means that relying on God tends to breed a level of contentment for believers that both pleases God, and positively impacts those within the believer’s influence. When we fail to shine God’s light (Matthew 5:16), the world no longer sees us as different from them. Romans 12:2 tells us to not be conformed to this world. We are to be separated, and this is not possible if we aren’t demonstrating contentment in our lives.
My final thoughts on contentment: Being involved in the financial planning profession for over 16 years, I have met with young couples just starting out, to retired multi-millionaires. I see a recurring theme among many, regardless of how much or how little they have, and it is lacking contentment. I believe lacking contentment is one of the greatest threats to the financial stability of people today. They worry. They have fears: Have I done/am I doing enough? Will this last me long enough? How will I be able to maintain my current lifestyle in retirement? Or, they believe they’re entitled to a certain lifestyle: We need a new car; we always go on two family vacations a year; that vacation home on the beach has been a dream of ours. All too often, people will make poor financial decisions based on worries, fears, entitlement, self-gratification, competition with the neighbors, desire to be noticed on social media, etc. When you are truly content, you are truly living, and truly free. As Jesus says in Luke 12:15, “one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
Do you have a fear of having enough? Why?
Are you demonstrating contentment to those around you?
Questions or comments- email me at Christopher.Hull@CeteraInvestors.com or call or text me at 716-707-1818.
Next Week: Idols
The views stated in this letter are not necessarily the opinion of Cetera Investors and should not be construed directly or indirectly as an offer to buy or sell any securities mentioned herein. Due to volatility within the markets mentioned, opinions are subject to change without notice. Information is based on sources believed to be reliable; however, their accuracy or completeness cannot be guaranteed. Past performance does not guarantee future results.