In a week that is supposed to be all about thanks and gratitude, most in American culture, and often those of us in the Church, have forgotten the foundation in which our gratitude should be found: contentment. Being content is completely against the consumer-driven culture that we will each be repeatedly confronted by over the coming weeks by our televisions, radios, computers, billboards, and so on. How ironic it is that we begin a season of such gross consumption of material goods with a day of thanks?!
Let us consider this question together: Is it possible to be thankful without contentment? With the absence of contentment comes a focus to gain a life of higher quality life than what I have now, either by the gain of goods, reputation, relationships, etc. How can we truly say thanks if consumerism is the posture of both our hearts & wallets?
Here are 5 biblical truths about contentment:
1. Contentment is enjoying God no matter what the circumstances. In Philippians 4:11-13 the apostle Paul says, “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
2. God expects us to be content with our material possessions. Paul, writing to his ministry protege (Timothy), says in 1 Timothy 6:6-8, “But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.”
3. Contentment is possible, even when others seem to be prosperous & have much. Psalm 37:7 & 16 say to “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!.. Better is the little that the righteous has than the abundance of many wicked.”
4. Contentment means we will be thankful for what God has given us. Psalm 107:8-9 says about the redeemed of the Lord: “Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.”
May we each, to the glory of our Heavenly Father, know contentment and thanksgiving this holiday season and beyond.
*A thanks to Keith & Patricia Miller of Baker Books and their literature on this topic.