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Updated: Nov 24, 2023

Paul cautions believers concerning the insidious nature of covetousness. The disparity between social classes was especially pronounced in the first century, and both the highest and lowest classes rubbed shoulders within the church. Social contact between the classes could easily engender jealousy and strife within the church. To prevent class tension, Paul instructs all believers in the basics of contentment. People who are malcontents are not close to the Lord. They are not following the Lord closely.

But I must remind you that contentment can be a good thing or a bad thing.


Genesis 37:27

27 Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmeelites, and let not our hand be upon him; for he is our brother and our flesh. And his brethren were content.


Philippians 4:11

11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.


Joshua 7:7

7 And Joshua said, Alas, O Lord God, wherefore hast thou at all brought this people over Jordan, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? would to God we had been content, and dwelt on the other side Jordan!


Luke 3:14

14 And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages.


Mark 15:15

15 And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified.

We are going to look at contentment from a good perspective…

Contentment is a biblical life-goal.

1 Timothy 6:6

6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.

Godliness (in its practical aspect) is making God the practical priority of your life by consistently practicing principles that draw you closer to Him and allow Him to manifest Himself through you.

Contentment is a state of mind in which no aid or support is needed. It is a mind that is satisfied, rested, and at peace with its lot in life.

Various people have said the following words about contentment.

“Christian contentment is that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God’s wise and fatherly disposal in every condition.”

“Contentment is the direct fruit of having no higher ambition than to belong to the Lord, at His disposal.”

“We are called to be satisfied. We are called to say, ‘I have enough’.” --John MacArthur

Fundamentally, contentment is a condition of the heart. It is the polar opposite of covetousness. Contentment lies not in what one says (“I’m happy with what I have.”) but in how one truly feels. (“I wish I had granite countertops and stainless steel appliances!”)

Godliness with contentment is a source of “great gain.” I am wealthy if I am happy with where I am and what I have.

Do you remember the Little House on the Prairie episode where Mr. Olson made the following statement to Charles Ingles? “You are the richest man in Walnut Grove.” Why would he say that when he, himself (Olson) was the richest man? Maybe you need to watch that episode again.

Americans, generally speaking, are dissatisfied as a people. We see something that we want…Let’s say an iPhone 15 Pro. It becomes the object of our desire…People will stand in line to get it…They go on an emotional high when they get it. We show all our friends. At some point, the thrill wears off, and guess what? We have a “timed released” update. Now it is the iPhone 16! Hedonic adaptation is based on our fundamental nature to be discontent. Hedonic adaptation leads to anxiety and bad (or unwise) choices.

Discontentment is the great sin of all people, but especially women. Despite having more freedom and employment opportunities than ever before, women have higher levels of anxiety and more mental health challenges, such as depression, anger, loneliness, and more restless sleep. And these results are seen across many countries and different age groups. A recent survey conducted by the American Psychological Association found that most US women are unhappy with how society treats them.

Using data across countries and over time Blanchflower and Bryson show that women are unhappier than men in unhappiness and negative affect equations, irrespective of the measure used – anxiety, depression, fearfulness, sadness, loneliness, anger – and they have more days with bad mental health and more restless sleep. Women are also less satisfied with many aspects of their lives such as the economy, the state of education, and health services. They are also less happy in the moment in terms of peace and calm, cheerfulness, feeling active, vigorous, fresh, and rested. They conclude their analysis saying “women are always and everywhere more unhappy than men.”

For all of us, men and women, The Bible states in 1 Timothy 6:7–8

7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.

It is not complex. Contentment is not based on what you have, how much you have, or how much you do. Let me tell you a story about the “One-Note Musician.”

“A series of pictures in a popular magazine portrays the life story of a ‘one-note musician.’ We see him following his daily routine of eating and sleeping until it is time for him to prepare for the evening. He carefully inspects his violin, takes his seat in the orchestra with the other musicians, arranges his score and tunes his instrument. On the arrival of the conductor, the music begins with the leader skillfully bringing in first one group of musicians and then another. After quite a long time, the crucial moment arrives—it is the time when the ‘one-note’ is played. The conductor turns to him and his one-note sounds forth. Once more the orchestra plays and the ‘one-note’ man sits quietly throughout the rest of the concert. At the end of the day, he knew that he had done his duty well and earned contentment and peace of mind.”

Seems pretty easy, huh?

Why should godliness with contentment be a primary life goal? Shouldn’t education, material success, and marital happiness be paramount? While none of these goals are inherently wrong, they are secondary to godliness and contentment. Secondary goals are legitimate as long as they are accompanied by godliness and contentment.

Paul’s argument for godliness and contentment centers upon the fundamental equality of mankind and the temporary nature of physical things.

At birth, everyone arrives completely dependent upon the care and resources of another.

At death, every physical advantage disappears. Death is the great equalizer. The temporary enjoyment of affluence ceases forever at death.

Because all men are equal at the moment of death, it only makes sense to live life satisfied with what you have.

Since basic necessities (food and clothing) sustain life, we should be satisfied when our basic needs are met. We should view everything beyond basic necessities as the richest of blessings!

Rather than concentrating on the accumulation of physical possessions, Christians should focus on their relationship with Christ and be content with their current lot in life.

It is not wrong to have secondary goals: career advancement, purchasing a home, etc. as long as godliness and contentment marks every step of the way. It is wrong to have basic necessities met (and a lot more) and to live in continual dissatisfaction and covetousness.

Let me give you some practical keys to contentment:

  1. Keep your expectations low, and life will have many pleasant surprises. When our expectations are too high, we are frequently disappointed and become dissatisfied with our lot in life. Low expectations (“food and raiment”) make us appreciate all the little extras that American life affords.

  2. See the abundance all around you. America is the envy of the entire world. Even most poor people are overweight/obese in America! Homelessness and hunger in America are usually because of mental illness, substance abuse, or laziness. All of us live better than King Solomon in all his glory. (Solomon didn’t have central heating and air or a microwave).

  3. Develop a grateful/thankful heart. Learn to genuinely appreciate all the good things of life: fresh garden vegetables, clean water, and nice clothes. Practice heart-felt thanksgiving regularly. Count your blessings often. And “quityerbellyachin!”

  4. Be satisfied in the Lord and the blessings He has given. Live a covetous-free lifestyle!

  5. Obey God’s Word/follow its teachings in your daily life.

  6. Discipline yourself to be satisfied with exactly what you have at this very moment.

  7. Place your entire existence (past/present/future) in his care.

  8. Discover the will of God for your life. This alone solves many problems and simplifies many choices.

  9. Focus on the promise of the Lord’s abiding presence (He will guide you and satisfy you Himself!)

Hebrews 13:5

5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

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