Biblical Contentment

The Worldly View of Contentment

In 2016, a romantic drama titled, "Me Before You," was released in movie theaters nationwide. The movie centered around a wealthy banker and the tragedy he faced after being hit by a motorcycle on his way to work one morning. The main character, Will, lived a vibrant life and after receiving the news that he would never walk again, the idea of using a wheelchair the rest of his life filled the young man with despair and discontentment. To make a long movie short, Will falls in love with a woman but because of his discontentment over his lot in life, he decided it would be best to end his life than to be a burden on someone else.

Movies like this one show us that our world struggles to find contentment because it doesn't understand what true contentment is. We hear things like "You Only Live Once" or "Live your best Life now," and we tend to think that being content is to fulfill all of your desires so you can be happy. News Flash! Nothing will ever be enough. Just a glance at Webster's dictionary is all you need to see why; it defines contentment as a state of happiness and satisfaction. If this is true contentment, how can one attain it in this life? Happiness can be so fleeting.
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 and 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. 1 Timothy 6:6-9

What is Biblical Contentment?

As Christians, we need a biblical definition; we need to dig deeper into the word and understand what true contentment is. Melissa Kruger defined biblical contentment as, "An inward assurance in God's sovereignty and goodness that produces the fruit of joy, peace, and thanksgiving in the life of the believer regardless of outer circumstances." What a difference!

We, as believers, are called by God to live content lives, and we see this throughout the scriptures. As a church family, we have learned this lesson through our study in the book of Philippians. Paul has been teaching the church to be content in any circumstance by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. What a glorious truth, God, not only calls us to be content in any situation; He also empowers us to do so. It is not in our fallen nature to ever be content with where we are because we are prone to be selfish. The key is that those who belong to Christ are no longer slaves to the flesh because we have a new nature in Christ Jesus!!

The Need for Biblical Contentment

Contentment is not a word that is often used in our society. That is because we are not taught to be content with what we have or where we are in life. Many are teaching that we need to attain wealth and should strive to live our best lives now, but when I look at scripture, I don't see where we have assurance for anything but Salvation and persecution for those who believe. Culture also drives us to think that if we had the newest, latest, and greatest material things that we would be happy. It also teaches that if we could have what our neighbors have that we would have a better life. Unfortunately, coveting is not seen as a sin by many today. When it comes to hardship, many falsely believe that trials and hard times are a hindrance to contentment not a doorway to a content life. For this reason, the world will never know what it means to be content in every circumstance.

Leaning on Jesus

However, like Paul once said, there is a more excellent way (1 Cor. 12:31).  The other day I heard a podcast in which they shared the story of Joni Eareckson Tada, who is a Christian author, evangelist, radio host and founder of Joni and friends, an organization that brings Christian ministry to the disabled community.

Joni was 17 when she went diving in the Chesapeake Bay and misjudged the depth of the water. She fractured her spine and developed quadriplegia. Over the next two years, she learned many skills and was determined to help others with disabilities. Joni shares how her disability changed her life:

"I sure hope I can bring this wheelchair to heaven. Now, I know that's not theologically correct. But I hope to bring it and put it in a little corner of heaven, and then in my new, perfect, glorified body, standing on grateful glorified legs, I'll stand next to my Savior, holding his nail-pierced hands. I'll say, "Thank you, Jesus," and he will know that I mean it because he knows me. He'll recognize me from the fellowship we're now sharing in his sufferings. And I will say, "Jesus, do you see that wheelchair?

You were right when you said that in this world, we would have trouble because that thing was a lot of trouble. But the weaker I was in that thing, the harder I leaned on you. And the harder I leaned on you, the stronger I discovered you to be. It would never have happened had you not given me the bruising of the blessing of that wheelchair." – Joni Eareckson Tada

I mean, wow! Joni's testimony floored me. Here is a woman who spent most of her life confined to a wheelchair and instead of being bitter, discontent or coveting what others have, Joni learned the secret of being content in this life, leaning on Jesus in every circumstance. Joni is a living example of what we learned last week from Philippians 4:11-13:
11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever
situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and
know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the
secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance, and need. 13 I can do all
things through him who strengthens me.
Although contentment isn't natural for us, we must fight the temptation to find contentment in our current circumstances/situation and instead lean on Jesus to find what we need. When we learn to find our Contentment in Jesus Christ, then will we find all that we need for a full life.
So, the Christian can endure hardship and still be content. We can face plenty and still be content. Because through it all, Jesus is the source of our strength in all of life. My hope is built on the reality that God is at work in the hearts of every believer right now, teaching us how to be content and strengthening us with his Holy Spirit through every situation we face in this life.
9 But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10
Soli Deo Gloria, 
Deliz Rivera