The Cultivation of Contentment: Part One

I Timothy 6: 6 – 12

Jesus said, “Foxes have their holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head” (Matthew 8: 20). He who said that was the world’s most contented person. In doing so, He established that contentment is not contingent on “things.”

We have developed an adrenal thirst for material possessions. As a result, if we have those we want, we are content. If we don’t have them we are discontent. 

There are things that aid contentment that money can’t buy. Money can buy. 

A bed, but not sleep. Books, but not brains. A house, but not a home.

Medicine, but not health. Food, but not an appetite. 

Amusement, but not happiness. A crucifix, but not a Savior.

In her book entitled: “Living on Less and Enjoying It More,” Maxine Hancock said of contentment: “It is similar to happiness, that greatly sought-after but always elusive goal of society.  However, it is deeper and more fulfilling than happiness.  It is a quiet plateau that can be reached internally even when there seems little external reason for it.” 

Our text teaches that “quiet plateau” is reachable by means of “godliness with contentment.”

There is a difference in seeking godliness as an end in itself and as a means to material gain. To desire to be godly is simply to aspire to be more like Christ.

Godliness and contentment are Siamese twins joined at the cerebral cortex. That is, they are inseparable. Yet, many people still seek contentment by ungodly means. That’s like trying to find a black palomino. There is no such thing. If it’s black, it isn’t a palomino. If it is a palomino, it isn’t black. 

If there is godliness, there is contentment. If there is contentment, it is because there is godliness.

“Contentment” is used as a noun here and in only one other place in the New Testament. The Greek word is “autarkeia”, meaning self-sufficiency, carrying the secret of fulfillment in yourself, completely independent of outward things. 

It comes from a personal relationship with the Father through the Son. We escape servitude to things when we learn this basic lesson.

The godly person possesses inner resources which furnish riches far beyond that which earth can offer.

Democritus reputedly used the word “avarice” as a summary for improper love of money and said, “Expel avarice, the mother of all wickedness, who, always thirsty for more, opens wide her jaws of gold.”

“Always thirsty for more” describes our era. Epicurus, building on the philosophy of Democritus said, “To whom little is not enough, nothing is enough.” 

That is because no quantity of things brings contentment. Only Christ does.

Have you noticed this principle in your life? Christ alone is the source of contentment, not things. Therefore, invest in Him for dividends of contentment.