Everybody loves the thought of being content. The difficulty is not desiring contentment, it is doing the hard work required to achieve contentment. One of our great difficulties is we have lost the ability to distinguish between happiness and contentment. Doug Larson once said, “The world is full of people looking for spectacular happiness while they snub contentment.” The Biblical idea of contentment is vastly different that the idea of contentment that pervades our society. The word content itself only occurs five times in our Bibles, and the word contentment occurs only once. In First Timothy 6:6 Paul says, “But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment.” The word Paul uses here is, “autarkeia.” It literally means, “a perfect condition of life in which no aid or support is needed.” It is a reminder that we have the sufficiency of the necessities of life. In Paul’s letter to Timothy it is used subjectively to refer to the contentment of our minds.
Paul is trying to teach his young protege and all of us that when our lives are characterized by godliness and contentment we will live full, joyous lives. So the question is, how can we find this elusive mindset? What can we do to be certain that we have contentment as a part of who we are?
While these suggestions are certainly not all-inclusive, our prayer is that they will be of some help as you search for this Heavenly contentment.
COMMUNE OFTEN WITH OUR LORD. There are three primary ways we can commune with our Lord. First, we can commune with our Lord through the study of His Word. Our Lord has chosen to speak to us today through His Word. God speaks to us through His Son (Hebrews 1:1), and we have the recorded Word of His Son, as well as those His Son commissioned in our New Testaments. Every time we read or study our Bibles we are listening to God speak.
Paul admonished Christians that we are not to “...be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the Will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2) One of the ways we can renew our minds is through study. Every time we open the Word of God we learn more about the “unfathomable riches of Christ (Ephesians 3:8).
Another means of communing with our Lord is through prayer. Just as studying the Word is God’s way of speaking to us, He has provided prayer as a means for us to communicate to Him.
A while ago Laura and I had the privilege of visiting with one of our dear sisters at Lewisville who was 96 years of age. It was just a few days before she passed away. At the time her mind was still sharp and I asked her if she had a favorite Bible passage. With very little thought she said, “Cast all your cares on Him, for He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)
During her funeral I used her Bible and was amazed at how many notes she had made about prayer. Here is a godly woman who had survived the loss of a husband and two sons to cancer. Even with all that she suffered she seemed amazingly content with life. It was without a doubt due in large part to her life of prayer.
After all, the God who hears us is called, “The God of all comfort.” (2 Corinthians 1:3) Knowing we have His comfort as well as the “peace of God which passes all comprehension...” (Philippians 4:7) will help us to live lives of contentment.
Third, we can also commune with our Lord through worship. Jesus promised His disciples that He would commune with them in His Father’s Kingdom (Matthew 26:29). Whenever we are gathered in worship our Savior is present. We can be content in knowing that He is with us when we partake of His feast, when we pray to the Father through Him, and when we bring glory to Him through our worship.
The late beloved brother Hugo McCord told about meeting a man in Scotland who walked to church three miles every Sunday. He would worship and then walk the three miles back to his home. The brother was aging and did not enjoy the greatest health. Brother McCord said that he asked the brother why he put himself through this ordeal. HIs response was, “My Savior died for me and I would never miss the opportunity to commune with HIm on Sunday!” What a wonderful example of a heart filled with contentment.
COMPARE OURSELVES ONLY WITH CHRIST. Comparing is one of the favorite sports of Americans. We compare houses, cars, bank accounts, electronics, children, grand children, and just about everything else. When we are always comparing we will never be content.
The lesson Paul is attempting to teach us here is that comparing ourselves with others will always create a feeling of discontent. We should only compare our lives with Christ. He is our standard. He is our model. He “left us an example that we should follow in His steps.” (1 Peter 2:21) We are to do everything possible to develop His mind (Philippians 2:5). Our goal is to become more like Him (Philippians 3:12-21).
Rather than gaining more stuff we should work to simplify our lives. Jesus said, “for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.” (Luke 12:15) In a world where obtaining more stuff is the norm, Christians should work to be content with what we have. Our affections must not be set on the “things that are on the earth,” but rather on things that are of eternal significance (Colossians 3:1-2). We must not store up for ourselves treasures on this earth, but we should store up for ourselves treasures in Heaven. (Matthew 6:19-20).
In our text Paul says, “If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.” (1 Corinthians 6:8) There are a number of statements in this section of Scripture to which we would loudly say, “AMEN.” I don’t remember ever hearing anyone say “amen,” when this verse is read. Most Christians in America would not likely be content if all we had was food and clothing.
CREATE OPPORTUNITIES FOR FELLOWSHIP WITH OTHER CHRISTIANS. A great help in the preceding suggestion would be to spend a majority of time with people who have similar goals, dreams, and aspirations. It is true that we become like the people we spend time with, and the wrong type of associations can corrupt us (1 Corinthians 15:33).
We cannot leave this world or refuse to associate with non-Christians (John 17), because we must do our part in taking the Gospel to the world (1 Peter 2:12). However, we must never place ourselves under the influence of people who do not follow Christ.
Those of us who have children should allow them to be influenced by other godly men and women. Paul said, “Be imitators of me as I am of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1) He also said, “...Join in following my example.” (Philippians 3:17-18) The Psalmist said that our children are gifts from God and they are like arrows in the hand of a mighty warrior (Psalm 127:4). We are responsible for aiming our children in the right direction and when we do we can be content with the fact that we have done our job well.
CONCENTRATE ON THE JOYS OF BEING A CHRISTIAN. Our world is filled with sorrow, sickness, suffering, and sin. If we are not careful we will fall into the trap of living depressed and dejected lives.
Jesus came to this world, in part to bring us the abundant life (John 10:10).
Only followers of Christ can truly understand this abundant living. We can rejoice always (Philippians 4:4). There’s an old hymn that says, “Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me. All His wonderful passion and purity...”
When we allow our lights to shine before men they will see the beauty of Jesus and they will glorify our Father who is in Heaven (Matthew 5:16). Paul said to the Galatians that his prayer was that Jesus might be “formed” in them (Galatians 4:19). The joy that comes from knowing Jesus should shine in our hearts (2 Corinthians 4:6). When our focus in life is on the joy of Christian living we will not only reach those around us, we will also be content throughout our lives.
Contentment from an eternal perspective will be ours when we commune regularly with our Lord, when we compare ourselves only to Christ, when we create opportunities for fellowship with other Christians, and when we concentrate on the joys of living the Christian life. May God help us to live every day with contentment from an eternal perspective.
Dear Father in Heaven, we pray that we will become more content as we grow closer to You. Help us to commune often with You, help us to quit comparing ourselves to others, help us dear God to create opportunities to fellowship with other Christians, and help us to concentrate on the joy we have in Christ. Thank You dear God for making is possible for us to live this life with an eternal perspective. In the Name of Jesus we pray, Amen.