We all do it to some extent. We set goals for ourselves. We plan and prepare for the future. And we work towards new and exciting things in our lives. It’s never a bad thing to have dreams and aspirations. I truly believe that God wants us to dream big dreams because, in Him, anything is possible! But what happens when we allow these dreams to become idols? We come down with a case of the “I’ll be happy when…” syndrome. This disease is like a cancer that invades, spreads into every aspect of our lives, and steals our joy. We become discontent with the place God has us for the moment.
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Finding contentment may seem like an impossible task in today’s culture. We are always wanting more… bigger, better, more exciting, etc. We feel entitled to certain luxuries, higher wages, and the typical American dream. But is this really how the Bible calls us to live?
Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.” – Hebrews 13:5
Some soldiers were questioning [Jesus], saying, “And what about us, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not take money from anyone by force, or accuse anyone falsely, and be content with your wages.” – Luke 3:14
But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. – 1 Timothy 6:6-8
Paul even goes as far as to say that he is content even when being mistreated and persecuted!
Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. – 2 Corinthians 12:10
So how do we do it? How can we make finding contentment a reality?
- Learn to live in the moment.
This may seem contrary to the Christian concept of “living for eternity.” In fact, I’ve seen numerous articles throughout my life telling us as Believers NOT to live in the moment. But while we are called to store up treasure in heaven and focus on the unseen rather than the seen, the Bible NEVER tells us to ignore this life and focus instead on the next. Heaven is our hope and our future, but we are called to live in the here and now with that hope in mind. We have a job to do – advance the Kingdom. And we can’t accomplish this task if we’re so anxious to get out of here that we are no earthly good.
If we are truly seeking first the Kingdom and doing all we can in the moment to advance it, we will have no time to be discontent over earthly things.
- Recognize where all good things come from.
God is good. All the time. And every good thing comes from Him. When we focus on the things we don’t have, it’s easy to forget the good things we DO have. God has blessed us so much. He LOVES to bless His children. And His blessings come in all shapes and sizes.
- Take a look around… you are rich, my friend!
Sometimes, God does bless us financially. There are many stories found in the Bible of men who were blessed by God with earthly wealth. And yet there are other times when “richness” came in a different form. Maybe He’s blessed you with a good job or an amazing family. Or perhaps He has blessed you with peace in the midst of your trial. The truth is, we are all rich in Christ. Focus on the good things that come from Him and you will realize just how rich you are.
- Remember that true wealth isn’t measured by your bank account.
The first time I read Jesus’ words in Luke 3:14, I was taken aback. Did Jesus really just tell them to be content with their wages? How often do we feel entitled to more? I deserve a raise. My boss should know my true value, right?
This may be true. You may indeed deserve a raise. But discontentment can quickly turn ugly. It can brew things deep within your heart that you don’t want there. We begin to rely on the wage, rather than God. We harbor ill feelings toward our boss for failing to see our worth. And we allow bitterness to grow, which is never good.
- Get your priorities straight.
When speaking of money and trusting God to meet all of our earthly needs like food and clothing, Jesus makes an interesting statement. He tells us to seek first the Kingdom of God. He wasn’t just making a promise (that God would meet our needs), but He was also giving us a lesson in priorities. The world focuses on their needs first, which leads to worry and doubt. But a child of God focuses His attention on the Kingdom first, and the rest falls into place.
Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. – Philippians 4:11-13 (NLT)
Finding contentment and peace in your life is only possible when we abide in the truth of who we are in Christ, our mission in Him, and how much He loves us.
*Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.