The teaching of the Bible opposes two false gospels, which we often encounter: the gospel of prosperity, which says that God wants us to be rich and healthy and the gospel of poverty, which says that God wants us to be poor and miserable.
The Bible presents a third way, that of contentment.
This is probably the best known passage about contentment:
Philippians 4:11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. 12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
But how to live contentment on a daily basis? How can we be ever more satisfied with what God gives us? Here are 7 tips to get there.
1. Cultivate good priorities
Our priorities reveal our heart. In this famous passage from the Sermon on the Mount ( Mt 6:25-34 ), Jesus tells us that in fact there is only one priority for us: that of seeking the kingdom and the righteousness of God. Everything else God will give us, because He knows what we need ( Mt 6:32 ).
To cultivate good priorities is to seek things from above first ( Col 3.1 ). Contentment will only come when our priorities are those God gives us.
2. Cultivate a righteous image of God
A few verses later ( Mt 7:7-11 ), Jesus reminds us that our trust in God is based on the person and character of God. If we can trust him and be content with what we have, it is because we know that God is good and that he is a Father for us.
God helps us to be content with what he gives us. How could a good God like Him not give us everything we need? Our trust in God will fuel our contentment.
3. Recognize that everything comes to us from God
James reminds us forcefully: “Every good grace and every perfect gift” comes to us from God, because of who he is ( James 1:16-17 ). For James, this thought should keep us in the day of temptation and trial ( James 1.2-15 ).
By recognizing that everything comes to us from God, who often blesses us so much beyond our basic needs, we cultivate the remedy for discontent, gratitude. Blessing God for His bounty that manifests His goodness keeps us from looking elsewhere for what we think we need or want.
4. Remind us of our condition
We will leave the world as we came: naked ( Job 1.21 ); without being able to take anything away ( 1 Tim 6.7 ). Knowing this helps us put what we want to look for into perspective. Are we looking for material and ephemeral riches, or spiritual and eternal riches? ( Mt 6.19-21 )
We are strangers and travelers on this earth. Let’s not slow our passage by taking on what would slow our course.
5. Recognize our real needs
Those who want to get rich, Paul tells Timothy, fall into temptation, snares and many foolish and pernicious desires. The result? Ruin and perdition ( 1 Tim 6.9 ). The antidote to this trap? Be satisfied with what we have, recognizing our true needs ( 1 Tim 6.6-8 ).
Recognizing our needs keeps us from seeking more than what God gives us. To talk about our needs, Paul makes the connection with Jesus’ words about clothing and food (compare 1 Tim 6.8 and Mt 6.25-26 ). Again, God knows what we need. Confusing our legitimate needs with our pernicious desires leads to discontent.
6. Cultivate dependence on God
Wealth can breed pride ( Deuteronomy 8:12-14 ; Jeremiah 9:22 ) and turn us away from God. But dependence on God leads to humility and contentment. If I depend entirely on God, then all that he gives me, the necessary as well as beyond, will be a subject of recognition.
To depend on God is to cast out doubt by faith; it is walking by faith and not by sight. To depend on God is to look to God and not to circumstances. It is God who is in control of our circumstances.
7. Remind us that God will supply all our needs
In the end, one thing must be remembered: “My God will meet all your needs according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. ( Phil 4.19 )
Praised be God for the riches with which he fills us!