3 things Christians need to know about contentment
"Now godliness with contentment is great gain." (1 Timothy 6:6)
To be content is a great thing. Many, however, have the wrong idea of what it really means. When we don't understand what contentment really means, we will mask our discontent with all sorts of explanations, not knowing the greed in our hearts.
Webster defines contentment as "a resting or satisfaction of mind without disquiet," and as humility, "without external honor." Based on this, to be "content" means to be satisfied despite humble circumstances. Regardless of what we have or what we don't have, we find ourselves happy and satisfied with no complaints.
That said, can we mistake contentment for something else? There are a few common misconceptions that some Christians have about it. Here they are:
1) "Contentment is settling for mediocrity"
Contentment does not mean settling for mediocrity. Many Christians who are content with average do not realize that God desires our best at all times. Think about it.
The Bible tells us that we should meditate on "whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy" (see Philippians 4:8). Settling for mediocrity is not on that list.
God deserves nothing but our very best, and so we cannot afford to be mediocre. Colossians 3:23-24 tells us, "whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ."
2) "Contentment means not desiring financial prosperity"
Friends, there's a huge difference between desiring prosperity and excellence and being greedy. The difference lies in the desire and the purpose of the desire. To desire to be rich, for example, can be a good or a bad thing. Let me explain.
People who genuinely desire to honor the Lord with their wealth will want to earn more so they can bless the Lord's work. They want to fund evangelistic mission trips, help church members find good jobs, and feed the poor in the community. That's a noble desire.
People who want to be blessed for themselves, for example, just keep asking God to bless them without desiring to honor Him. They may sound religious or spiritual, but they simply want the provisions for themselves. This is deceitful and wrong.
In Isaiah 61:8 God said, "For I, the Lord, love justice; I hate robbery for burnt offering..." We can't be religious and be covetous. Contentment and covetousness do not go together.
3) "To be content means being happy with little"
Friends, being content is not equal to being lazy. Some people erroneously think that contentment means being happy with little even though there are a thousand ways to work and earn a better life. Think about it.
While contentment surely means not complaining to God about our lot in life, it doesn't mean we should be lazy and just accept the circumstances around us. If God wanted us all to beg, then He wouldn't have given us the power to produce wealth (see Deuteronomy 8:18). If God wanted us to live in poverty, then Christ didn't have to become poor so that in Him we could become rich (see 2 Corinthians 8:9).
God wants us to have the abundant life (John 10:10), and we should not be content until we live the life He wants us to live: freed from sin, holy, righteous, and glorifying to Him.