Last September my oldest son Connor turned 4 years old. I always get so excited to buy my boys gifts for their birthdays…some gifts that I just want them to have (mostly gifts that are educational…not usually what they request) and other gifts that they may have requested.
Now many of you may know that Connor loves trucks….mostly construction trucks and garbage trucks. He has all kinds of trucks at home from previous birthdays or Christmases. So before his 4th birthday, I just figured he might want something else…not so much. He requested another garbage truck and an excavator (now if you don’t know what an excavator is…don’t worry, I didn’t either… but I have learned the name of every construction truck that exists due to his great love for trucks!)
I tried to explain to him that he already has both of these trucks but it didn’t seem to matter to him. He was not satisfied with the ones he already had. He wanted more.
As I raise my little boys, I am learning each day how many things bring about discontentment in their little world! They are not satisfied with the amount of toys they possess or the amount of chocolate syrup I pour on their ice cream sundaes or how long they get to play outside or what shoes I would like them to put on or how many books my husband and I read with them before bed…and the list goes on and on and on! They continually want more because in their eyes more is better!
More may sometimes seem better in my eyes too as I am also learning about how many things bring about discontentment in my own life. I want more counter space in my kitchen to cook…which is something I love to do! I want more closet space… our small master closet is so jam packed that we have had 2 of our shelves fall down because they couldn’t bear the weight of all the clothes. I want to lose the last 5 lbs of my post baby weight…I workout and workout and eat healthy… I snack on carrots when I really want some chips… just to try and lose the last few pounds which keep me dissatisfied.
Now, these things that bring about dissatisfaction or discontentment are not necessarily bad or sinful desires…but if nothing ever changed in the above situations or circumstances, would I be ok with that?
Whether it’s the little things in life or the bigger things in life, we can so easily fall into the trap of discontentment. Whether it’s how we want to look, what corporate ladder we are trying to climb, how much more money we need to make…whether we are a working mom wanting to stay at home or a stay at home mom wanting to work…whether you are single wanting to be married or you are married wanting to be single( and yes…there are many out there unfortunately)…whether you want more understanding and love from your spouse or you want to have more children and your spouse does not…whatever it is that you are wanting different in your life, not satisfied with, or wanting more of that causes discontentment…
Is there anything in your life that you are just not satisfied or pleased with…that brings about discontentment? Do you feel that “more” will bring you contentment?
Wanting more is not necessarily bad but if it consumes you and has you convinced that it is the key to contentment in your life, then it may be time to re-evaluate some things.
Contentment is defined as “the state of being pleased and satisfied with what one has or is… the state of not needing more.”
The Greek word for contentment is autarkeia which means a condition in life in which you have sufficient supplies for the needs of the moment.
From these definitions, we can see that contentment is not only not wanting more but also not needing more. The difference between wants and needs is a subject for another blog as I would like to focus on contentment here which according to the definition doesn’t depend upon either being met.
True contentment is not determined by having our wants and needs fulfilled. Contentment is a state of not wanting more or needing more!
Are you living a life of contentment? If you are not, what is the secret of being content?
In the bible, the apostle Paul is a great example of someone who discovers the secret of being content. His joy and contentment was not dependent upon having his wants and needs met.
I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 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 all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:10-13 NIV
What is amazing about Paul is that he is saying this from prison! I can think of a number of things to be discontent about if I were in prison, can’t you? Just how was Paul content while in prison?
To first give you more info about verse 10, Paul is rejoicing and referring to a gift that was sent to him from the Philippians, but he then clarifies some things. He is basically saying that while he appreciates their gift, he’s not dependent upon it or motivated by it. He would still rejoice and be content even if they hadn’t sent him a gift.
One commentary explains…“The apostle was often in bonds, imprisonments, and necessities; but in all, he learned to be content, to bring his mind to his condition, and make the best of it. Pride, unbelief, vain hankering after something we have not got, and fickle disrelish of present things, make men discontented even under favorable circumstances. Let us pray for patient submission and hope when we are abased; for humility and a heavenly mind when exalted. It is a special grace to have an equal temper of mind always. And in a low state not to lose our comfort in God, nor distrust his providence, nor take any wrong course for our own supply. In a prosperous condition not to be proud, or secure, or worldly. This is a harder lesson than the other; for the temptations of fullness and prosperity are more than those of affliction and want.” Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary
In verse 11, Paul says something very profound…He says that “…I have learned to be content.”
Contentment is a learning process…it is not something we are just born with or discover one day…it is learned. So how like Paul do we “learn to be content whatever the circumstances?” How do we find “the secret to be content in any and every situation” like Paul did?
True contentment comes from having the right perspective, having the right priorities, and connecting to the right power source.
3) Power Source
Contentment comes from having the perspective of the eternal, not the temporal.
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2Corinthians 4:18NIV
For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? Mark 8:36 NASB
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.” Hebrews 13:5NIV
Contentment comes from having the priority of godliness, not gain.
But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 1Timothy 6:6-7 NIV
Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. Matthew 6:33 NIV
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2 NIV
Contentment comes from being connected to the right power source…God.
The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Isaiah 58:11 NIV
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed; 2 Corinthians 9:8 NIV
And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 NIV
I heard someone once say …“The gospel doesn’t obligate me to contentment; it equips me for contentment.”
As I reflect on my own life and the things that make me discontent, I pray that I am able to learn the secret of contentment as Paul did…whether or not my wants and needs are met!…And my prayers for you too is to grasp this secret and have a life marked by contentment!
One pastor defined contentment: “Contentment is not having all that you want. True contentment is wanting only what you have.”
1) Do you have discontentment in your life? Is there anything that you are not pleased or satisfied with?
2) Are you always trying to obtain more, achieve more, do more or be more?
3) When you reach that “more” level, are you finally content?
4) If not one more of your needs or wants were met, can you still be have contentment in your life?
1) We must first realize that true contentment does not come from having your wants and needs met.
2) We must begin with the right perspective, right priorities, and rely on the right power source…God…not us… to have a life marked by contentment.
3) Begin to have an eternal mindset, put God first above everything else…all your wants and needs….and finally rely upon his power and strength to live in contentment.