Contentment, something we all seem to be searching for. Our lives have enough chaos but then pile on top the craziness of our current world. Finding contentment can seem downright impossible at times.
So where do we turn when the inner turmoil sets in and we are anything but content? The Bible has a lot to say about being content. As crazy as it sounds, our circumstances don’t have to define our state of happiness. We truly can find calm in the chaos no matter what is going on around us.
What does the Bible say about contentment?
Paul is such a great example for us to look at. In Philippians 4:11-13, Paul tells us “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
Paul gives us a clear understanding of what the Bible has to say about contentment. No matter what is going on in our lives, whether we are celebrating the happiest moments or struggling through the lowest, Jesus strengthens us through it all.
We are never alone and never left without the help and strength of God. Our circumstances are temporary, but His love is eternal and He will always provide.
We may look back and think maybe Paul didn’t have it as bad as we do right now. He didn’t write these helpful words for us in the coziest of moments in his life. He wrote these very words about being content while in prison for serving Christ. He dedicated his life to spreading the good news of Jesus and that brought him more joy than any wealth he ever had.
So how do we find this contentment that Paul not just tells us about but lived and felt? What are the benefits of finding this type of contentment we see in the Bible?
Contentment lowers anxiety
I have struggled on and off with anxiety my whole life. At times my anxiety could be so crippling I couldn’t even try to function for the day.
Did you know anxiety is the most common mental illness and affects over 40 million adults in the United States alone? While it is reassuring to know I am not alone, this is a huge number of people who are struggling.
In my anxious moments, I feel so overcome with worrying about whatever the situation may be. In reality, does all of that worrying change the outcome? Not, one bit. Jesus puts it plainly in Mathew 6:27 when He says, “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”
Feeding our anxiety by worrying does nothing to change our circumstances, but prayer can. When we turn our anxieties over to God, we can take them off of our plate. Let God take what you have no control over.
I wish I could explain to you the freedom and peace this has brought me. Knowing I can lay all my worries, fears, and anxieties down for God to do the work behind the scenes has lifted this heavy weight from my soul.
In my moments where the worry starts to creep back in, I pause and have a little conversation with God. I let Him know what I am struggling with and leave it there.
When we allow our minds to let go of our worries and let God take them, our focus is shifted from our current troubles to Him. When we can take the focus off our worries, our mood naturally changes. This is where finding the contentment Paul tells us about comes in. While this takes practice, we can find true contentment when we hand over our anxieties to God.
Contentment eliminates jealousy
Have you ever looked at someone else’s life and had the thought, “must be nice?” I know I am not alone in this. Social media throws the perfection of other people’s lives in our face every day. It is hard not to look around and wish for what they are doing or have.
Jealousy is a dangerous place to be. When we are constantly looking at what others have, we will never be happy with what we do. It is a vicious cycle to always be wanting and getting what your friend has the latest of. My question is when you get it (insert whatever “it” is for you), how long will that keep you happy?
Proverbs 14:30 tells us; "A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones." Jealousy literally rots away our happiness. We will never be content if envy continues in our hearts.
When our hearts are rooted in Christ we have the ability to see the bigger picture. Colossians 3:1-2 tells us, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Whatever we have on this earth is temporary. We don’t get to take the fancy car, the designer purse, or the extravagant vacation with us.
Heaven in the Bible is described as paradise (Revelation 2:7). Compared to eternity with God in the paradise of Heaven, our friend’s Pinterest perfect dream home doesn’t look so impressive anymore.
We can shift our perspective when we take our minds off of the shiny things of the moment, and place our thoughts on all that God has provided us with. Our need for more subsides when we are thankful for all we do have and we can in turn be happy for the blessings of the people around us. When we feel blessed there is no room left for envy.
Contentment removes the need for more
When we are feeling blessed and thankful we feel more complete. There are no voids to fill. There is no need to search for “things” to make us happy. When we don’t need to search for “things” the benefit is three-fold, we aren’t wasting money on unnecessary stuff, we aren’t wasting time looking for that stuff, and our stress level is lower because of both.
We live in a society that is constantly searching for bigger and better. Did you know the average home size in the United States has increased by more than 1,000 square feet over the last 40 years? That’s bigger than my first apartment! The extra space leaves more room to accumulate.
All of these things we feel we need cost us more than just money. With the increased financial burden comes the time and energy it takes to make that money. For most of us we have to work hard to support ourselves, that includes for our needs and our wants. Often times we get the two confused.
In Mathew 6:25-34 Jesus addresses this very topic. He tells us not to worry or stress about what we eat or what we will wear. He tells us we are so valuable to Him and we need to seek Him first and e will provide for all that we need.
Trusting in God to provide for our needs may sound scary, but when we do seek Him first, He lifts the weight of wanting. All of the time, energy, and money we use to seek more stuff is really just a weight baring down on our souls. When we no longer carry that need for more, the burden is lifted. Trust Him to let the blessings of what you need flow.
I, for one, am so thankful we have this guide to life to lead us to true contentment. Before discovering the truths of the Bible, these issues of anxiety and jealousy, and always feeling like I needed more to make me happy ran my life. They consumed my mind and dominated my days.
The truth is, we don’t have to let the world’s definition of contentment define how we live. We can reap the benefits of what the Bible says about contentment right now! I challenge you to put into practice these steps towards contentment:
-Lay down your worries to God to lower your anxiety
-Be grateful for what God has blessed you with
-Remember He will provide for all your needs
When we practice these three steps, our worries will fade, jealousy will subside, and the need for more will wane. Try it and you will see.
“Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:9