Several years ago, I heard a pastor cite a study where they asked people how much money they would need to make to consider themselves to be “rich”. The study found that the answer varied based on the amount of money the person was currently making, with people answering fairly consistently that if they made double their current income, they would consider themselves“rich”. As I heard this, it struck me that no matter how much money we have, we’re always hungry for more. I find this applies to a lot of other areas of our life as well: career success, relationships, our possessions, etc. We’re always on an endless pursuit of having “more”.
What does this say about us? Simply put, we lack contentment. For many of us, the word contentment may have a negative connotation. When we picture someone who is content, we may think of someone who is unmotivated, directionless, even lazy. However, being content does not mean being stationary or neglecting to have goals/direction. True contentment is not at odds with being ambitious or working to achieve future goals.
So what does it mean to be content, and how can we be content while still working hard to grow and accomplish good things? I believe biblical contentment is a mixture of 3 things: thankfulness, enjoyment, and trust. Thankfulness is a mindset we have where we see what we have as an undeserved gift and are grateful to God for it. It is the opposite of envy (“I want what they have”), greed (“I can never get enough”), and entitlement (“I deserve this/that”).
The second component of contentment is enjoyment. Whereas thankfulness is a mindset, enjoyment is the activity of actually delighting in the gifts we have and the giver who provided them. While being thankful for my wife may mean thinking of her and being grateful she’s in my life, enjoyment is laughing with her and enjoying her wonderful smile; it’s the actual activity of enjoying the gift she is to me. Proper enjoyment always leads us to worship, where we marvel at God’s goodness to provide us with such a wonderful gift and enjoy him, not just his gift.
Lastly, contentment involves trust, specifically trusting in God’s provision. It is trusting that we have what we need right now, and that that we will have what we need in the future. It’s the trust that allows us to say,“what I have is enough because I trust that God would not leave me lacking anything that was for my ultimate good.” My prayer for all of us is that we can have this kind of contentment and be able to enjoy each moment God gives us.
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