“Better is a little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble with it.” (Proverbs 15:16)
I recently experienced an “aha” moment while reading the Bible and meditating on contentment. Just to clarify, contentment is not the same as happiness, even though the thesaurus lists them as synonyms. Think of it this way. Happiness is short-term, so we crave “more” to sustain that feeling. Contentment, however, is long term. It doesn’t require a constant push to have more to be satisfied.
That “aha” moment I had? I realized that discontent dates back as far as the Garden of Eden. God placed Adam and Eve in a perfect setting. Not only did He create a place of beauty for them to inhabit, He also provided for their every need. Then God took time to walk and talk with them. What more could they desire? It was perfection.
Until! Until the serpent came with beguiling speech. “You can have more. Why settle for this when you can eat from that one tree and become like gods.” Discontent, the desire for something beyond the perfection they already knew, destroyed the peace of the Garden. Sin entered and with it came toil, pain, guilt, and anxiety. And perhaps loneliness. Their communion with God was broken—just because Satan dangled something “more” in front of them.
Our culture is a “more” culture. Our house isn’t large enough. We need more space. Let’s trade our car for something new and fancy. These clothes are old and out of style. Let’s shop for more. The neighbors just left on vacation. Get out the credit card. We deserve to go somewhere exciting too. We need more fun!
There will always be someone who has more than we do—a vacation home, a boat, more money in the bank. Without contentment in our lives, whatever we acquire will never be enough. It becomes an endless cycle of desire and discontent.
In Ecclesiastes 5:10 (ESV) Solomon recognized that those who constantly seek for more will always be discontent, regardless of how much they possess.
“He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity.”
Are you contented? Or do you secretly covet something better? Check your contentment level.
You might be discontent if:
- You are materialistic. “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5, ESV).
- You complain a lot. “Do all things without grumbling or disputing” (Philippians 2:14, ESV).
- You have anxiety. “Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (I Peter 5:7, ESV).
- You envy others. “A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot” (Proverbs 14:30, ESV).
If you are contented, those around you will notice:
- You show gratitude. “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (I Thessalonians 5:18, ESV).
- You have a joyful spirit. “Rejoice always” (I Thessalonians 5:16, ESV).
- You trust in God’s provision. “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19, ESV).
- You seek God’s approval, not man’s. “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10, ESV).
Adam and Eve had it all, but the serpent convinced them they didn’t. Be careful of the voices around you that say, “More—you need more.” If you have God in your life and trust Him to provide, you have enough. And that is contentment.
Lord, help me to hold lightly to material possessions and find my contentment in being Your child. Whatever my circumstance, You are with me and will provide my every need. I don’t need more possessions—I need more of You.