You know people like this, always wanting more than they have. Their appetite for something else is never satisfied. They want more recognition, money, clothes, recreational outlets, status, you name it.
This mindset is an awful taskmaster, making us slaves. But when we learn contentment in life, it truly is the key to freedom.
Are You Content in life?
Contentment is a type of acceptance for where life has placed us. So ask yourself, am I content with my:
- Ethnic background
- Physical features
- Financial situation
- Abilities or lack of them
This is not to say that we shouldn’t try to make our life better.
But sometimes things are out of our control, and when that happens some people become very discontent and unhappy.
What is the difference between content and happy?
Happiness is dependent on things going our way. It can be very short-lived.
We can feel happy one minute because we got the job we wanted, followed by unhappiness because our child got in trouble at school.
In contrast, contentment is a more stable mindset. It springs from a sense of gratitude for what we already have.
Contentment in life quotes
Many have weighed in on this matter of contentment in life, including Biblical writers as well as many others from secular history. Many of them learned the secret of contentment through difficult circumstances. Here are a few of the quotes.
What God says about contentment in life
These were the words of Jesus.
The writer of the book of Hebrews told us:
“Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he (God) has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you. ‘ ” Hebrews 13:5 ESV (explanation added)
The apostle Paul wrote these words as he was in prison.
“I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content … I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:11 – 13
Later in his life when he was waiting to be executed, Paul wrote these words to Timothy.
“Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.” 1 Timothy 6:6-8
God is clear that contentment is important.
We can’t ever expect to have lasting joy and happiness if this Godly characteristic does not become a part of us.
Other quotes about contentment in life
This is what Benjamin Franklin had to say.
Socrates and Plato had their own thoughts about contentment.
“He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have. ” Socrates
“The greatest wealth is to live content with little.” Plato
And more recently, James MacDonald said:
Why contentment is important in this world
Discontented people usually don’t care who they hurt in order to get what they want.
In contrast, people who find contentment in life help those around them. They see the needs of others because they are not blinded by their own selfish desires.
Contentment in life could prevent many wars of greed and political power. But it all begins with preventing personal wars in families and communities.
How to have contentment in life
How to be content is not a hidden secret. The Bible talks about it, and It starts with our thoughts.
By looking at Biblical characters who were not content we can better understand what contentment looks like.
Biblical characters who were not content
All we have to do is open the first few pages of the Bible to find discontented people. There actually were many throughout the pages of Scripture, but we will look at just one.
In the garden of Eden, we find Adam and Eve who lived in “paradise”, where they had everything they needed.
So if someone has everything they need, why would they be discontent?
It truthfully is a matter of ingratitude.
Discontentment is the recognition that there is something else out there that we don’t have. Our minds then think and obsess about it.
That is what Eve did. With the help of the evil one, she overthought a lot of things.
- Did God really say we can’t have fruit from this one tree?
- Can we trust what God says?
- Is God is holding back from us something good?
- I think this fruit would make me happy.
- Maybe my ideas are better than God’s.
Once these thoughts get started if we choose to rehearse them over and over, they then hold us captive. It starts with our choice and then we get trapped.
Before long, we are not content with all the good things we already have. In fact, we can become indignant that God won’t let us have more.
We begin to feel entitled. We see it as our right to have what we want when we want it.
Being content in the 21st century
The last few years have had their challenges: sickness, death, financial ruin, isolation. Let’s just say it has been tough. Few have escaped being touched in some way by these most distressing events.
And even as I write, innocent people are being displaced, many losing their lives as another nation tries to run over them to take control.
Is it possible in the 21st century to have contentment in life?
The answer is yes. In the midst of all that seems so horrible, there are content people. But how, you may ask? These individuals:
- Make God most important in their lives.
- Let God direct their thoughts
- Develop a deep sense of gratitude for ALL that God has given to them
(1) Make God most important in your life
In order for God to be important, we must have a personal relationship with Him. He gives us the power to change the way we think and live.
Just being religious is not the same thing.
(2) Let God direct your thoughts
Whether we like it or not, what we value and think about the most will be our master. It will drive us to act in certain ways. The choice is ours.
So how do we let God direct our thoughts?
- Reading God’s words as often as we can
- Memorizing God’s words that address our life situations
- Thinking about God’s words as often as we can
God’s words are found in the Bible.
(3) Develop a deep sense of gratitude for all that God has given us
Being thankful, even when we don’t feel like it, is an antidote for discontentment.
A prayer for contentment in life
Dear Heavenly Father
You have given me so much to be thankful for, beginning with waking up each morning. I know that every breath and every heartbeat is a gift.
I am also grateful for your many physical gifts- food, clothing, shelter, and clean water.
But most of all I am grateful for the way you loved me even when I was lost in my sin. Your forgiveness is something that is hard for me to wrap my mind around. I don’t know what I would do without the knowledge that you will never leave me. I am thankful that you are always available to listen and to help me.
I ask you to help me never take these things for granted. Guard my heart against discontent. Give me a hunger to know you better. Remind me often throughout the day that you are the source of real freedom and contentment in life.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.
You can download this prayer here.
So the question is, do we want to be emotionally free regardless of what life throws at us? The choice is ours and it is found in contentment.
Apart from God, we can not experience ultimate contentment in life. His ways give us the power to be free.