Yesterday I wrote an article examining the bible’s commands regarding contentment. Because that idea is so counter to our natural way of thinking, we have to make a conscious effort to renew our mind.
Here are some things that I try to focus on in order to develop contentment in my heart:
Realize that all things belong to God:
The silver is Mine and the gold is Mine,’ declares the LORD of hosts. ~ Haggai 2:8
“I shall take no young bull out of your house, nor male goats out of your folds. For every beast of the forest is Mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird of the mountains, and everything that moves in the field is Mine. If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world is Mine, and all it contains.” ~ Psalm 50:9-12
Once I began to really understand that all things belong to God, it changed my prospective. I realized that we are just stewards of the wealth that He has given to us, and He expects us to put it to work to fulfill our obligations (to family, church, our nation, etc). We all must submit to His plan for our lives, and find joy and contentment in that plan.
Trust God to provide for your needs:
For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. ~ Matthew 6:25-34
I have been young and now I am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his descendants begging bread. ~ Psalm 37:25
And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 4:19
God promises to supply our needs if we are faithful to Him, and seek after godly things. This fact has comforted me when I’ve gone through difficult times. Even when we cannot see where our next meal is coming from, or how we can afford clothing and/or shelter, we can know that God is watching over us and we can be content with His provision!
Be sure that your affection and desire is for heavenly things:
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. ~ Matthew 6:19-21
When our treasure and source of contentment is in earthly things, we set ourselves up for a fractured relationship with God. We will experience despair (and even desperation) in times of need, and a lack of humility in times of abundance.
Understand that this world and all that is in it will one day be destroyed:
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. ~ Revelation 21:1
Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. ~ 2 Peter 3:3-13
This earth and all that is in it will one day be destroyed. So it is foolish to develop an attachment to, or determine our worth by wealth or possessions.
Let’s look at another helpful note from my study bible on 2 Peter 3:11:
“what sort of people ought you to be.” This is an exclamation rather than a question. It means, “How astoundingly excellent you ought to be!” This is a straightforward challenge for Christians to conform their lives to God’s standards in light of the reality of coming judgment and eternity (cf. 1 Corinthians 4:15; 2 Corinthians 5:9). “holy conduct and godliness.” “Holy conduct” refers to the way a Christian should live life – separate from sin. “Godliness” refers to the spirit of reverence which should permeate a Christian’s attitude – that which rules the heart. (MacArthur Study Bible, page 1929)
The focus and desire of our lives should be to please God! The bible tells us that our treasure should be in heaven, because earthly treasures can fade or be stolen, and eventually all material things of this world will be destroyed. Knowing that nothing I obtain will last has freed me from my dependence on material wealth for satisfaction.
Base every financial decision on the word of God:
No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other You cannot serve God and wealth. ~ Matthew 6:24
The bible gives clear instruction about how to handle our finances, and how to view wealth. It not only speaks in terms of principles, but with specific instructions. We can know God’s will regarding giving, paying taxes, wealth, working, helping others, bankruptcy, cosigning loans and any other topic we can think of.
When we obey God in every circumstance, we can know that all of our needs will be provided and we can experience God’s blessing!
Being content with little, much, and everything in between is not easy. But I have found that implementing these concepts in my life has made it much easier!
Of course, this list is by no means exhaustive and if you have any suggestions, scriptures or questions please leave a comment below. I look forward to hearing how you work to develop these character traits. How do you combat the urge to measure your life in terms of wealth or possessions? How have you struggled with this?
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