Therewith To Be Content
“Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” Philippians 4:11
“But godliness with contentment is great gain.” 1 Timothy 6:6
If there is any Biblical concept that goes diametrically cross-grained to American idea of work harder to get more stuff, possess more things, get richer, have the latest this, the best that, the most expensive other, emulate the wealthy, adopt their lifestyles whatever the cost, it is the Biblical idea of contentment in whatever state we find ourselves.
Why? Because from the time we are able to conceptualize having things we are encouraged to do whatever it takes to achieve more than the people around us, to standout from the crowd, to compete to win and always be reaching for more. And I agree with almost all of those concepts. The Bible teaches and promises us riches, wealth, and continual expansion and increase in our possessions when we do so under God’s power and submission to His Word. So, I am not suggesting in any way that achievement or prosperity or wealth, riches or enjoying the good of the land are bad things or that advancing in wisdom, knowledge and understanding is counterproductive to contentment.
No. It’s quite the contrary. I believe all these things have their place and are blessings from God when they are attained righteously. The deeper questions are where should our lives be centered and what place in it should all these things hold? Is life to be about the acquisition of stuff, or the accumulation of academic degrees? Are we called to be about seeking prosperity and wealth or gaining power and ascendancy over others?
The first thing we are to seek even in the acquisition of the most fundamental necessities of life is the Kingdom of Heaven. God does not call us to seek food, clothing and shelter before we seek Him—and why not? He is the provider of all things. Apart from Him we can do nothing, but with Him all things are possible. When we seek Him we are seeking godliness, we are seeking His way, His work, His will and His pleasure. When we do, then all these things will be added to us.
The deeper we go in knowing the depth of God’s love, of His wisdom, of His knowledge, His understanding, His mercy, His grace, His justice and His righteousness, the higher we are lifted to the measure of all the things that life has of wealth, riches, favor, honor and blessing which are the true riches of life and the most precious and priceless of all is contentment.
Now, contentment is not just a resignation to our condition no matter what where we say, “Well whatever. If this is all there is for me…Oh well, might as well accept it…sigh!” That is not contentment. That is fatalism. Fatalism is not a Biblical virtue.
Contentment is an attitude of acceptance of our momentary condition whether fully supplied or in want and an appreciation for what we have for the sake of enjoying the deeper state of peace within and freedom from all stress, anxiety and agitations because of what we do not have.
Contentment is freedom from worry and f ear, from pride and pity, from longing for what we do not have, from envying those who have what we want. Contentment is satisfaction to be in the presence of God and knowing we are possessed of the Holy Spirit and in Him is our life made acceptable to God so we have peace, Godly peace.
Godliness with contentment is great gain because in that state we are truly and joyfully free indeed.
“If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” John 8:36