18 Jul Contentment – A Way of Living
Contentment is the state of being happy and satisfied. When one is thankful about something marvelous happened, or when one has everything needed, then there is a feeling of contentment. So the feeling of contentment is more like a peaceful state of mind. The word contentment in Hebrew means simply “to be pleased”. But the Greek bring out the full force of the word in 1 Tim 6:8; Heb 13:5 and in 1 Tim 6:6. Here we see contentment as more inward than just mere satisfaction. The difference is that the former is a habit or a permanent state of mind while the latter has to do with a particular occurrence/object that makes us satisfied with whatever status we are in or whatever possessions we own. Paul says this in Phil 4:11 that he learned to be satisfied or happy or contented with whatever situation he was in.
The general tendency in the present day world is to keep going higher or to have more in terms of finance, status, designation, possessing materials, latest gadgets and technology, fashion, comforts etc. It is because we are never satisfied. Not everyone is truly content with his or her life. Other times we are dissatisfied and seek more for what we don’t have and who we are. Unlike Paul, some of us are never satisfied with what we have or what we possess or the status we are placed in or even degrees we hold. The problem here lies in never stopping once in a while to sit and think of all the things God has given us or to understand what God desires for us in our lives.
We need to be content with what we have or where we are, because we aren’t going to carry our achievements or possessions with us when we die (I Tim 6:7). We came into this world empty handed and we will depart from this world empty handed as well. The status of our finance, degrees or the designations that we own or achieve do not make one shred of difference to our standing when we go to heaven. So, if we are not going to carry anything with us into eternity then why strive? What use will all our accomplishments bring us except the pride that we try to showcase in society? Paul instructs us to “flee from these things and take hold of the eternal life to which we are called” (I Tim 6:11b).
Paul also tells us in I Tim 6:9b, striving or desiring to go higher up the ladder, makes us fall into various temptations and traps us into many foolish and harmful lusts. These temptations ultimately lead us to fall into sinful ways and sinful living and in the end we stray away from our relationship with God. As a child of God can we afford to stray away from our Heavenly Father?
The most important thing we need to remember is “the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil (1 Tim6:10). The greed and desire for money can stray a believer from their faith. “It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith” (1 Tim 6:10b). Losing faith is very scary because losing faith is losing salvation. In addition to losing our faith, we become self-dependent rather than depending on God. The danger in this is one can even push oneself into sorrow and painful situations and even bad habits (1 Tim 6:10).
So Paul Commands:
1. To flee from the love of money and the greed of going higher.
(1 Tim 6:11a) And instead,
2. To aim to achieve righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness and gentleness. (1 Tim 6:11b).
3. To fight a good fight of faith in the midst of the conflicts with evil that we face in the world (1 Tim 6:12).
This is what is required in the present day.
In the end, contentment is usually discussed in connection with desiring more than what is required. Desire comes out of comparing with what others possess and getting depressed for what we don’t have and fail to acquire. We end up putting pressure on ourselves and our families for all the things we think we need to have but don’t. Let us remember that our lives on this earth are a passing phase. This thinking leads us to live a contended life. Jesus said that a happy life doesn’t depend on the things we have. The true treasures that make us happy come from loving God and loving one another (Mt 6:19-21).
John the Baptist, while baptizing people said to the crowd, “Bear fruit worthy of repentance. . . any tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” Several people then asked John what was to be done and John answered the tax collectors and said, “Don’t collect more than that is appointed”. In other words, do not be greedy. And to the soldiers he said, “Do not extort money from any one by threats or by false accusation”. In other words, do not illegally collect what you desire through bribes and fines but be content with your wages (Luke 3:14-15). In both scenarios we are taught to be content and live as commanded rather than through suggestion or exhortation. Commands require obedience and by desiring more than what is required, we live outside of God’s will and are disobeying God’s command, thereby inviting sorrow upon ourselves. Also in striving to earn more we will be slogging in our lives and have no time for God and for the family.
Beloved brothers and sisters let us not be conformed to the image of this world or its worldly practices/believes but rather let us rise above all these and live transformed lives. By doing so we will prove that which is good and acceptable and perfect will of God (Rom 12:2).
Mrs. Aruna Fullonton