By Dennis L. Shaver
Funk and Wagnall’s Standard Dictionary defines contentment as “1. The condition or fact of being content; satisfaction.” All men seek contentment. Every creature of God desires to be content, or satisfied, in the physical realm. Men seek contentment in their jobs, marriages, family relations, standard of living, etc. However, many fail to realize that at best this offers only temporary contentment. Many never really find the contentment they are looking for. They spend their life in search of satisfaction, but it is never theirs to grasp. The reason for this failure is simple. Men look for contentment in material things and possessions. Most of mankind never understands nor enjoys contentment, satisfaction, or peace of mind. Only when men seek after godliness and God’s will can they find real contentment.
The apostle Paul said: “Not that I speak in respect of want, for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Phil. 4:11-13). The teaching of Paul in this passage cannot be grasped by everyone. The contentment in Paul’s life did not rely on his physical conditions. Whether he was in need, or his needs were supplied, he was still content. As he stated to the Corinthians: ” . . . but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day” (2 Cor. 4:16). Far too many rely upon the things of this life for their contentment. When everything is going their way, they feel content. During this time they feel satisfied. But, let something happen which upsets them, and they are no longer content. Why? Because they were not really content in the first place. We are all happy (I hesitate to use the word content) when our bills are all paid, and we have a couple of dollars in a savings account. How happy are we when something unexpected happens? What happens to us when our financial situation takes a turn for the worse?
Again we look to the apostle Paul that we may learn how a man can be content, no matter what his physical state. Paul said that whatsoever his state he had learned to be content. It was not something that was born within him, but something he learned. How does one learn contentment? Again we beg you hear the teaching of the apostle Paul. “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content” (1 Tim. 6:6-8). Paul had just been talking about some who felt that physical gain was godliness. However he instructed the young Timothy that this was not so.
Contentment is accompanied by godliness. Paul instructed us to be content with such things as we have. Food and clothing are enough. Let each man shun worldly contentment, and seek higher contentment; that which comes only from doing God’s will. Only Christians can hope for and attain true contentment. It is said that many of God’s children have not learned this teaching and therefore availed themselves . of this blessing in Christ. Every Christian should be content just knowing that he/she, is a Christian. As Paul said, he learned to be content. Let us determine to learn to be content just being a Christian. I would pray that no child of God would allow this physical life dictate his/her contentment. If this is the case, t$en we need to learn well the real contentment that comes from God.
As Job answered, “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21). Yes, blessed be the name of the Lord, for no matter what may happen to me, I am a Christian!
Truth Magazine XIX: 56, pp. 886-887
December 11, 1975