There is a great peace that comes from being content. It is a peace that arises from less stress and less pressure in life. It is a peace that is unknown to many but at the same is available to all people. Contentment is an acceptance of the present circumstances while working for improvement. The Bible has much to say about contentment and the wise person will listen carefully. Let’s begin with what I consider to be the “classic” text on contentment:
But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world so we cannot take anything out of it either. If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content .But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all sorts of evil, and some, by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
1 Timothy 6:6-10
Paul has just warned Timothy of men who preach falsely in hopes of finding great gain (1 Timothy 6:1-5) but then notes that true godliness does produce contentment. When a man seeks after God with all of his heart (Matthew 6:33), he becomes less concerned about the here and now and more focused with his service to the Lord and his own eternal destiny. Such a long view of life and a re-focusing of priorities from self to God thoroughly changes a person and produces great peace. A man learns to be content with the essentials because he knows something greater awaits. To support his encouragement of content, Paul offers a truism which properly frames our lives; we came into the world with nothing and we will leave with nothing. The gold filled pyramids of Egypt attest to the foolishness of trying to take riches out of this world.
Paul next contrasts the need for contentment with the rush for worldly goods. Paul knows well that some are in a never-ending pursuit of wealth. The accumulation of wealth is their focus and their priority. It is the goal they seek as they arise each morning and it is on their mind every night. These people are likened to a wild animal trapped by a hunter. They fall, are ensnared, they plunge, they wander and they are pierced. One can picture a hunter laying a trap for an animal which is then caught a slaughtered. Such is the estate of the man or woman driving by the love of money. It is quite obvious that the live of the content person is far superior to that of the one seeking riches. The Christian is to accept the circumstances here and now, but expect something greater in eternity.
So how can I better apply this passage?
1. Focus on the eternal, not the temporary. Anything you can acquire in this life is temporary (2 Peter 3:10). Why trade the temporary for the eternal?
2. Allow God’s Word to guide you to the eternal. Once we begin to live in the Scriptures a curious cycle will begin. We will become more eternally focused because we are in the word and because we are in the word we become more eternally focused.
3. Dream of the eternal reward. Some organizations encourage a person to feed their earthly dreams by touring large mansions, test driving expensive automobiles and reading from magazine targeted to the rich. They build the material dream and people work harder to achieve it. Likewise, the Christian ought dream of day when we enjoy the wealth we have stored in the heavens (Matthew 6:20).
Truly, contentment is yours. Will you change your focus and seek that which last forever? You will find great peace and joy.