Contentment â€¦ When I think about this concept, I see a happy little child sitting and playing, not having a care in the world. That is contentment, but is it possible for us to attain such contentment amidst all the cares of the world? I believe it is, it is all about focus and attitude. Allow me to explain.
To understand this better, we have to understand the essence of the word. When we look at the synonyms and antonyms for the word contentment, it is interesting to notice how descriptive of the state of contentment these are. Synonyms like “fulfillment, gratification, pleasure, satisfaction, serenity, gladness and peace. It so describes what we experience when we are content, while antonyms like sadness, disappointment, dissatisfaction, unhappiness, agitation, worry, discomfort, displeasure and misery accurately describe what we experience when we are not content.
Contentment is a state of being and it comes from within. Only we have control over it, it is a decision based on certain facts. So the first step towards contentment is to make that decision. We recently did an article Speak truth to yourself and this is another area where we need to speak the truth. We can start off by having a grateful heart for what YHVH has done for us. First and foremost He gave Y’shua to die in our place, to take the punishment for our transgressions and gave us eternal life. That alone is enough to give us a heart of gratitude and be content in any situation. Our citizenship is in heaven, not on earth and we should be looking at life from a heavenly perspective.
20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Master Y’shua Messiah;
2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.
It sounds very simplistic, doesn’t it, but it should be the foundation of our contentment. However, we are human and live in this world and are daily confronted with the world, the good, but also the bad and ugly. Our circumstances can steal our joy and destroy any state of contentment we may have. Envy and want, can also destroy our state of contentment. So, how do we make sure that doesnâ€™t happen? How do we make sure we keep this heavenly perspective?
We shall search the Scripture to find out what we can learn.
We are to pursue contentment.
In what we have
The Apostle Paul tells us how to in the letter to Timothy.
1 Timothy 6:6â€“11
6 But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. 7 For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. 8 If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. 9 But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. 11 But flee from these things, you man of Elohim, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.
Paul implies that the opposite of contentment is greed or a love of money. We are not to pursue this.
It is written in Hebrews:
5 Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, â€œI will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,â€
When you read this verse and the one quoted from 1 Timothy, we see that the hindrance in being content is “a love of money.”
Greed is linked to covetousness, which is idolatry.
5 Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.
We have written about covetousness previously Always wanting moreâ€¦Covetousness is idolatry.
We are to be content with what we have, even it is just the basics: food and covering. We are to pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. Focussing on these will help us keep our heavenly perspective.
In all circumstances
Paul goes a step further in saying that we are also to be content in whatever circumstances we are in. In poverty and prosperity, in being hungry and being filled, in having abundance and suffering need.
11 Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. 12 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. 13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
Being content should not be something we measure based on what we have or experience. It is a mindset based on what YHVH has done for us.
Just on the side. Being rich is not a sin, but we are not to be arrogant or fix our hope on riches. If we have much, we can enjoy it and we are to be generous and ready to share. All we have is from YHVH.
1 Timothy 6:17â€“18
17 Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on Elohim, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. 18 Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share,
What we have, does not determine who we are, it should not. Y’shua said that not even when one had abundance does his life consist of his possessions.
15 Then He said to them, â€œBeware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.â€
From these verses, we learn that contentment lies in accepting what we have and where we are. Lack, or perceived lack in these two areas is the most likely to threaten our state of contentment. This threat is very real. We just have to compare ourselves with those around us. We are also bombarded by the media with advertising. They endeavor, and often succeed, to create a want, even a need, in us for what is being advertised. Movies, on the other hand, create an unreal world that draws us and make us want to be someone or somewhere else. It may make us feel discontent with who we are and what we have. So how do we counter this? Is it at all possible?
All this is possible, because we can do all things through Him who strengthens us. This, and the advice Paul gives us will help us to be or stay content.
Willing to dwell
Before we look into what Paul said in more detail, let us look at the Hebrew perspective of the word content.
To be content is to be “willing to dwell.” To be willing to dwell in our current circumstances, our current situation whatever it may be. Not thinking YHVH WILL do good, but knowing that whatever He does IS good. That is what it means to be content. To focus on the Spiritual not the physical and to pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.
We will look at each one of these to find out how each of these will help us. These six things Paul mentioned in 1 Tim 6:11, belong to YHVH’s kingdom and work together towards one goal, contentment.
In Matthew 6:33 Y’shua said the following:
33 â€œBut seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 â€œSo do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
What are “all these things?” Let’s just back up a few verses.
28 â€œAnd why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, 29 yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 30 â€œBut if Elohim 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! 31 â€œDo not worry then, saying, â€˜What will we eat?â€™ or â€˜What will we drink?â€™ or â€˜What will we wear for clothing?â€™ 32 â€œFor the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
“All these things” refer to food, water and clothing, the basics Paul also referred to. YHVH will supply the basics, so we are not to worry, but be content in knowing that He will provide what we need.
We are to have our focus on His Kingdom and live in such a way that we further His Kingdom.
33 â€œBut seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
The above Scripture mentions righteousness. We are to seek YHVH’s kingdom and His righteousness. His righteousness is keeping His commandments and our belief in Y’shua, for Y’shua is righteousness. We read in the book of Revelation, that those who overcome are the ones keeping the commandments and holding to the testimony of Y’shua.
12 Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of Elohim and their faith in Y’shua.
Pursuing righteousness will lead to godliness
Godliness is defined by the Dictionary of Biblical languages as ” the devout practice and appropriate beliefs of God” and also as:
2355 Îµá½ÏƒÎµÎ²ÎÏ‰ (eusebeÅ): vb.; â‰¡ Str 2151; TDNT 7.175â€”1. LN 53.53 worship (Ac 17:23+); 2. LN 71.29 fulfill oneâ€™s duties, put religion into practice, show piety toward (1Ti 5:4+)3
So, godliness is practicing righteousness, to be godly is to be set apart. Being set apart is a lifestyle, not a compartment of our lives. We are to practice righteousness. When we practice righteousness, our focus will be on YHVH. We will have a more spiritual perspective which will help us stand up to the temptation of the world.
The next one is faith. There is a beautiful verse in Isaiah about faith and peace and we learned previously that peace is a synonym for contentment.
3 â€œThe steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, Because he trusts in You.
If we have faith, we will be able to be content in every circumstance, knowing that YHVH is in control.
28 And we know that Elohim causes all things to work together for good to those who love Elohim, to those who are called according to His purpose.
This is what Joseph had to say after what happened to him:
20 â€œAs for you, you meant evil against me, but Elohim meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.
He was hated by his brothers, sold as a slave, and unjustly thrown in prison. He saw YHVH’s purpose in it and he made the best of it. He was the best slave, the best prisoner and was later given great authority and there also he did his best. We can learn much from Joseph about purpose and being content.
We have learned in a previous article Finding meaning, that our purpose is founded on YHVH’s purpose. We, as believers, are called to fulfill YHVH’s purpose. Knowing this and knowing that He is in control of EVERYTHING, help us to be content in any circumstance. If we have faith in YHVH, we will be in perfect peace and that is contentment.
Another verse that builds on this instruction is in 2 Peter.
2 Peter 1:5â€“7
5 Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, 6 and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, 7 and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.
The verse in 2 Peter shows us how faith is necessary in order for us to be able to persevere. Perseverance means not giving up, to overcome. We can persevere if we have YHVH’s Word in our hearts. I have found since really working on memorizing Scripture, that those Scriptures I have memorized are brought to the fore when I need it most. You can read more about having YHVH’s Word in your heart in the articles,Â Scripture memorizationâ€¦having YHVHâ€™s Word in our heartsâ€¦ and Why we are to do our own Bible study. I want to encourage you to try it, we may not always be able to have a printed copy of YHVH’s word with us. When you read biographies of people like Corrie Ten Boom and others who have been in dire circumstances, you will see that they overcame because they had YHVH’s word in their hearts. It helped them persevere.
88.59 Ï€ÏÎ±Î°Ï„Î·Ï‚, Î·Ï„Î¿Ï‚ f; Ï€ÏÎ±Ï‹Ï€Î±Î¸Î¯Î±, Î±Ï‚ f: gentleness of attitude and behavior, in contrast with harshness in oneâ€™s dealings with othersâ€”â€˜gentleness, meekness, mildness.â€™4
We are to become like Y’shua
1 John 2:6
6 the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked
and He was gentle and humble.
29 â€œTake My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
5 Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. YHVH is near.
Next is love.
Much is written about love in the Bible, but the most important is:
30 and you shall love YHVH your Elohim with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.â€™ 31 â€œThe second is this, â€˜You shall love your neighbor as yourself.â€™ There is no other commandment greater than these.â€
Did you know that this is a combination of what is written in Deuteronomy 6:5 and Lev 19:18. We are to first love YHVH, then ourselves and our neighbor as ourselves.
Not only are we to love YHVH, but we are to believe that He loves us.
1 John 4:16
16 We have come to know and have believed the love which Elohim has for us. Elohim is love, and the one who abides in love abides in Elohim, and Elohim abides in him.
To be content is a state of mind and thus a choice. We are to be grateful for what YHVH has done for us and look at everything with a heavenly perspective. Our focus should be on YHVH and furthering His kingdom through our lives. That includes our deeds, but also our attitude. We must have the attitude of “it is fine or it will work out for good” in whatever circumstance we are.
As we said before, these six things: righteousness, godliness, faith, perseverance, gentleness and love work towards one goal, contentment and when we focus on these, we will be content. We must believe not that YHVH will do good, we must know that He is good and whatever He does is good.
1 Oh give thanks to YHVH, for He is good, For His lovingkindness is everlasting.
1 Thessalonians 5:16â€“18
16 Rejoice always; 17 pray without ceasing; 18 in everything give thanks; for this is Elohimâ€™s will for you in Messiah Y’shua.
4 Rejoice in YHVH always; again I will say, rejoice!
11 You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.
- All quoted passages are from the New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995. We have substituted YHVH for LORD and Yâ€™shua for Jesus.
- J. W. D. H. (1979â€“1988). Content; Contentment. In G. W. Bromiley (Ed.), The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised (Vol. 1, p. 767). Wm. B. Eerdmans.
- Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Greek (New Testament) (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
- Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 748). New York: United Bible Societies.