We live in a materialistic, consumption-oriented society that operates on the two assumptions that more is always better, and happiness is based on the acquisition of possessions. The danger of buying into this philosophy is that it is totally contradictory to the life that we are called to live as Christians. The fact of the matter is that Christians are called in Hebrews 13:5 to “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.'” Let’s take a look at a biblical definition of contentment as we strive to counteract the messages of greed that bombard us in our culture today.
Contentment is simply being satisfied with one’s circumstances and resting in the sufficiency of God. The word “contentment” is mentioned seven times in the Bible, and has to do with money six of those times.
Paul wrote, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:11-13). Paul “learned” to be content. We are not born content; rather, we learn contentment.
The secret that Paul was referring to was a result of learning to think correctly about money and God. Contentment is learning to see money as God sees it and nothing more. It is also learning to see God for who He is. He is the cornerstone of our contentment. Contentment is really a spiritual issue more than it is a money issue. God is always there and never changes. He is consistent and stable, and you can always trust Him. Once you are free from the love of money and the pursuit of it, contentment will come whether you have a lot or a little.
Although many Scriptures teach about the dangers of material riches, God’s Word does not teach that poverty is God’s alternative. As we strive to understand the “secret” of contentment, God wants us to understand that money is a tool to use in accomplishing His plan through us. If we are to find true contentment, we must establish some basic guidelines.
Accept your role as steward
As a caretaker of God’s resources, we must accept our role as steward. When we recognize that God owns everything and all blessings come from Him, our role as managers, or stewards, becomes evident. If we see ourselves as the person in charge, it is only a matter of time before circumstances change and we lose control. However, if God is the owner and we are simply His stewards, we need only to be concerned with how best to manage His possessions. The result, then, is up to Him.
Establish your standard of living
God has called each Christian to a certain economic level. Our financial position today is exactly where God wants us to be at this moment. We are charged with the responsibility of being faithful according to biblical principles as we live well within the economic parameters established and supplied by Him.
Understand that godly living does not always produce financial blessing
We can look to scripture and see countless examples of very righteous, godly men who were extremely wealthy with material things and others who had absolutely no worldly goods. Unfortunately, when we make the mistake of assuming that financial reward is the guaranteed result of godly living, we run the risk of making inaccurate conclusions of our overall spiritual health. Don’t allow yourself to be deceived or even become angry at God if you feel that you have done your part and financial blessing has not followed.
Develop a thankful attitude
It is amazing that we could ever think that God has failed us in America in terms of material living. We are living in the most prosperous nation on the globe, with over 40% of the world’s wealth and only 4% of the world’s population. Until we can truly thank God for what we have, and be willing to accept God’s provision, contentment will never be possible.
Moreover, we should maintain a thankful attitude for that which makes us truly wealthy. We are the beneficiaries of the greatest gift that could ever be given the free gift of eternal life. Paul reminds us in Philippians 3:8 that, “I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ.”
Contentment is so far removed from many Christians that it seems they will never be able to find it or be at peace. However, contentment is not something that must be searched for and found. It is an attitude of the heart. Once the attitude has been modified and all has been transferred to God, contentment will be evident.
Rob West is the Training and Communications Director for Kingdom Advisors, a non-profit Life that exists to equip and disciple Christian financial advisors to integrate their faith and profession. Please send questions and comments to [email protected].
The information in this article is for information purposes only and does not constitute advice. You should not rely on any information in this article to make (or refrain from making) any decision or take (or refrain from taking) any action.