Being content is beneficial to you and to your mental well being. For Christians, however, being content is a mandate. In sending a message to the Hebrew believers, the Apostle Paul advised them to refrain from greed and be content. He wrote: “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” (Hebrews 13:5). In telling them to be “content,” he was telling them to be in a perpetual state of satisfaction.
Being content does not mean that everything is going well or that there are no problems. It simply means that you are okay in the mental, spiritual, financial or other space in which you find yourself. But, even while you are content, you can still work on improving your circumstances.
If you are going to be content in today’s society, then it is going to be deliberate. Even if you are satisfied with what you have, popular culture will give you many reasons why you should not be content. It tells you why you should buy this product, how you should look, that you need to lose weight, the gray hair and the wrinkles. Remaining content with the things you have means that you are on guard against the voices of distraction that tell you that you need more.
How do we get to the state of being content? Well, the Apostle Paul said something very curious: “I have LEARNED in whatsoever state I’m in to be content.” Here, Paul is stating that being content is a learned act. It implies that he was not born with it, but made a conscious effort to exhibit a calming presence in the face of difficulty or sheer bliss. Take a look at the scriptures below just to see how difficult staying content must have been for him. This is him explaining what he’s been through.
“…I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm. Then, besides all this, I have the daily burden of my concern for all the churches….When I was in Damascus, the governor under King Aretas kept guards at the city gates to catch me. I had to be lowered in a basket through a window in the city wall to escape from him” (II Cor. 23-28, 32-33).
How’s that for trying to be content in life? And this does not include the time he was bitten by a venomous snake (Acts 28:5). So, what was his secret? His secret was his unwavering faith, love and trust in God, His Son, Jesus and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit (Acts 13:9). His ability to be content was through Jesus. He professed: “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” (Phil. 4:13).
So, the secret to biblical contentment, as taught to us by the Apostle, is trusting God, irrespective of the circumstances, and knowing that He is always in control. And, just like the Apostle Paul, one can learn to do so. To this end, below are five steps to start you on your journey.
1. Pray. Prayer is central to the life of believers. It keeps them connected to God and helps them grow in their faith. In prayer, Christians can ask for their needs to be met, for family salvation, protection, healing and so much more. Believing that God will meet your needs certainly can help to be content.
2. Read the Bible. The Bible says that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Rom. 10:17). Building trust, which leads to faith in Him, is a foundation of being content.
3. Gratitude. Being mindful of the many blessings you already have keeps you focused on the good in your life. So many things that people can take for granted–such as the ability to walk–are actually blessings from God. You can be thankful for your family, your job, or anything that you have. There is always something for which one can be grateful.
4. Celebrate the goals you accomplish. Set goals that are reachable, and when you achieve them, take time to appreciate what you’ve done. Just to recognize that you’ve put the time in and achieved your objective leads to more contentment with life.
5. Serve others. Jesus lived a life of service and is an example for the believer to follow. When you invest in others, it affirms your worth and purpose. It reminds you that there is someone somewhere who needs you.
Being content is a journey and you are well on your way.