In life there is always a better option. There will be a better house, job, girlfriend or lifestyle. Then there is Safaricom the better option. 😀 Sometimes we are so consumed with the desire to have better things that we forget to appreciate what is already given to us and in so doing fail to live life as we should. Contentment issues!
Contentment is not the opposite of ambition and hard work, lest anyone would accuse me of advocating for lack of ambition. It is simply being satisfied and grateful for what is already there for you at a particular time. It is lacking anxiety of the things that you don’t own. It is recognizing and acknowledging that God, in His Sovereignty, gives every gift as He sees fit. The Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP) defines contentment as realizing that God has provided everything I need for my present happiness.
Greed on the other hand is like telling God, “Look, what you’ve given me is a raw deal. I needed more and better. I’m going to have to work out a way of getting what I think is best for me.” So after this, one goes ahead to desire and covet in order to acquire what they think they need.
The problem is that sometimes we don’t even realize that we are not content. We go ahead to complain of how unfair our lives seem or start to desire and covet other people’s stuff. We may not even go to the extent of acting on our discontentment. But the fact that we complain and covet is evidence of ungratefulness and discontentment.
1 Timothy 6:3-10
If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food with clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.
I find it interesting that the portion of scripture that talks about discontentment also talks about false teaching in the early verses and eventually talks about falling away from the faith in the last verse, in the same breath. Could it be that these are closely related? Of course false teaching is characterized by greed and misuse of faith for material gain. Discontentment is one of its fruits.
Verse five is also quite interesting. Who are these people who are depraved in mind and deprived of truth, and imagine that godliness is a means of gain? Could it be those that believe they’ve got a right to receive the best because they are born again? Those who name, claim and possess things in Jesus name? Those who sort of fix God into debt, thinking He owes them the ‘good’ things of this life? God is certainly not a debtor of any man! He is Sovereign and does what He wills.
The Bible reminds us that we brought nothing into this world and shall leave with nothing from it. We can go about amassing wealth and pursuing success, promotions and accolades but all will be left here in this world. May be this should make us shudder and remember to concentrate and give priority to that which has eternal value.
If we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. (Verse eight) It looks like according to biblical terms, food and clothing is enough for us. You have food and clothing? You are good to go. You can survive through!
Enter riches. The elephant in the room! The Bible explicitly says that those who desire to be rich fall into temptations, a snare and many senseless and harmful desires. Can Christians be rich? Yes, if God wishes to bless them materially. It is the desire for riches, that keeps us up on toes with endless and futile pursuits, that is condemned. It is this desire that could easily make us fall into temptations and great anxiety in life. We need to keep ourselves in check that this desire doesn’t crop up in our hearts.
The end result is that if we crave for money and riches we could end up wandering away from the faith. Walking in the faith and pursuing money (and wealth) as your master are not compatible!
As I said earlier, contentment is not substitute for hard work and ambition. Elsewhere in scripture we see laziness condemned. We also need to keep growing, in our career, work and other spheres of life. But it is very important to keep in heart that we should be satisfied with whatever God brings our way. Let’s keep our cravings and desires in check.
John Piper says that God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him. I like to see this quote in light of the character quality contentment. That when we are most satisfied with what God has given us by His grace (both physically and spiritually), then God is most glorified.
There’s certainly something higher and greater to live for. We cannot afford to waste our lives wallowing in pursuits informed by our discontentment. We need to pray continually that God helps us to have grateful hearts and hearts consumed by Him. That our focus shall not be what we don’t own or what we think we ought to have, but we shall delight in having Jesus as our Lord and Savior. May this in turn cause us to live lives that glorify Him.