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Bible verses about Contentment
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Numbers 11:33-34

Kibroth Hattaavah means "the graves of greediness." Their sin was not just in giving in to their craving. Their sin was they doubted God's ability to supply and they doubted His concern for their welfare.

Understand that God's concern for us is just as great after His calling as it is before. He is still working out His purpose, and He will supply our need. Remember, though, when God gives us what we desire and pray for, it does not necessarily mean that it is a blessing, as in this situation when the "blessing" turned out to be the instrument of death. It is a sobering lesson to keep in the forefront of our minds. Our prayer should always be, "Not my will but Yours be done. God, please remember I am just human."

Human nature is never satisfied. It is filled with self-concern and does not know what is best for it. What it lusts for may even lead to that person's spiritual death. It makes us think that the grass is greener on the other side and that there is more and better in something else, something new and exciting. And when lust is involved, anticipation is always greater than realization. There is a law of diminishing returns at work in this universe that perversion lessens rewards. The Israelites had a perverse craving for tasty food, and their reward ended up being death. Human nature is something we are always going to have to deal with in this life.

God was not dealing with these people in terms of salvation as He is with us. The lesson for us is not to let these cravings—even desires for good things—take our eyes off the goal and the reality of what God is doing for us.

Jeremiah 10:23-24 says that the way of man is not in him to direct his steps. We have to understand that, when we come to God, we are admitting to Him through repentance that our salvation is not internal—it is not something we can produce. In the same vein, the right way to live is not within us. It must come from outside, and that "outside" is God. Thus, we ask God to direct our steps. At baptism, we are asking God to make us into the image of Christ and to rid us of the perversions of human nature that have produced this world.

The experience of the Israelites shows us that, when the going gets unexpectedly rough and hardships occur—say, in the area of tithing, that we have not been blessed to the extent we feel we deserve, or in the area of Sabbath, that we lose our job and cannot find another—and then we have an intense craving for something and begin to look back at our former situation, we can also begin to lust for the very things that not long before we considered to be expendable and holding us in bondage.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Passover and I Corinthians 10


 

Numbers 11:33-34

The first lesson is that human nature is fickle. When it begins to get an upper hand, it points to our lack of faith and understanding. God knew that the Israelites needed privation to prepare them to take over the Promised Land. He knew they needed to go through periods of time when they thought that the pressure was too hot, that God had denied them access to something they really desired. It is an interesting comparison to us to remember that they came out of slavery. How much privation do we who are living, relatively, in the lap of luxury need before entering God's Kingdom?

In Philippians 4:11-13, Paul says he had learned to be content. Contentment is not something that comes naturally. He says there were times he was abased and times he abounded, but he found that he could count on Christ to supply all his needs.

The second lesson is that in rejecting the manna, the Israelites were rejecting the major source of their strength. They, of course, did not look at it this way: They said their life was dried up. However, we have the New Testament understanding of it. In John 6:33, Jesus says that He is the true manna which came down from heaven. If we connect this to Matthew 4:4, "Man shall live by every word of God," and John 1:1, 14, that Jesus is the Word, we find that typically, symbolically, they were rejecting the major source of their strength—God's Word.

Unfortunately some of us are spiritually malnourished. We are really on a starvation diet, spiritually, and yet we need the word of God because it is the primary food from which we get our spiritual strength.

We need to ask ourselves, what are our study habits like? Do we have intense cravings to go back to the world in terms of television or movies or novels? These are things that feed the mind, not the stomach. What is feeding our minds? Is it nothing? If so, our minds are wide open for God's Word—or for anything else.

Israel's physical taste buds were perverted. Spiritually, we should be concerned about this because we have come out of a world that has a terrible ability to pervert our spiritual taste buds. There are all kinds of sights, sounds, colors, amusements, and entertainments that are very stimulating. They may not be evil of and by themselves, but like any spice, they need to be controlled, or they will take over the whole dish. Unless our lives are just delicately flavored with those things, we might be in spiritual trouble.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Passover and I Corinthians 10


 

Numbers 16:3

This is an example of a person who is dissatisfied with what he has and stirs up others because of his ingratitude for what God had given him already.

The consequences of Korah's "taking action" are clear: God destroyed all these who rose up against Moses and Aaron—against Him. Does this pattern look familiar? It should. It is the age-old and oft-repeated sin of pride manifesting itself in ingratitude. Satan did the same thing (Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezekiel 28:14-17). It was not enough for him to be a covering cherub at God's throne. It was not enough to have the lordship over the earth and one-third of the angels (Revelation 12:3). No, he wanted to resemble or compare to the Most High (Isaiah 14:14)! His pride led him to go to war against God, a battle he soundly lost (Luke 10:18). Revelation 12:7-10 prophesies that his pride will drive him to attempt another coup d'état before Christ's return.

This is where ingratitude can ultimately lead a person: into total rebellion against God. It lends to an individual feeling a false sense of worth, that he deserves more. If not checked, it becomes a plague of discontent that soon infects others, as Satan's ingratitude spread to other angels.

If this kind of attitude lands us in trouble, just what should our attitude be? A truly humble and grateful person will never rebel against God because he knows that even the very breath he breathes is a gift and calls for praiseful thanksgiving to the Father. Sharing this thanksgiving with others in the church works like soothing oil that helps to heal the body.

Mark Schindler
Ingratitude


 

Psalm 23:6

This psalm began with the sheep, as it were, bragging across the fence to his neighbor. Through the course of the psalm, we went through the cycle of a year, and in this last verse, we find ourselves back again at the home ranch. The sheep is speaking about his shepherd's house, which is not up on the high tableland but down where the home ranch is.

The psalm began with a buoyant, "The LORD is my shepherd!" and it closes with an equally buoyant, positive note. The sheep is utterly satisfied. He is saying, "Boy, I love it here! Nothing will get me out of this outfit! You see, I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever."

We have come full circle with the sheep giving a statement of composure and contentment. In Ephesians 2:19, the house is defined as the family of God, of which Jesus is the Head.

Do our neighbors see us as being contented, happy, at peace? Do they see the effects of our intimate relationships with God in our lives? Are we good witnesses for His way? That is the question we are to ask ourselves as the psalm ends.

The sheep proclaims, "I will dwell in the presence of the LORD forever," concluding this poem of praise and thanksgiving of the sheep for his shepherd. The sheep had experienced life in the shepherd's care, and he wanted more of it! That thought should be a guiding beacon for us the remainder of our lives, as long as they might be—that it is our fervent desire to dwell in the presence of the Lord always.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Psalm 23 (Part 3)


 

Psalm 75:7-10

The righteous do not exalt themselves. God will promote them; He will exalt them when it is the proper time. In the meantime, it is best for all of us to be content with where He has put us. We do not need to go to the lengths of Korah or Diotrephes to be presumptuous—we can be presumptuous anytime we take something upon ourselves that has not been given to us to do, thinking that we know better. Such a thing is just plain pride.

The cure for presumptuous behavior is realizing what God has given us, where He has placed us, and what is best for us at the time. If we work within the parameters He has set for us, we will grow, and we will perform the task He has asked us to do.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Countering Presumptuousness


 

Ecclesiastes 2:1-11

Solomon admits that his quest rewarded him with a certain amount of joy, but he still found it unsatisfactory. We might think that with all his wealth, good health, and a discerning mind, he would have had joy in abundance. What he accomplished, however, did not leave him with an enduring sense of well-being because his search continued after this experiment ended. He seems so frustrated that he says we should seize the joy as it comes along and be content with it (verse 24). His ultimate conclusion, found in verse 26, is that God determines whether we experience joy.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fruit of the Spirit: Joy


 

Ecclesiastes 3:1-22

Chapter 3 is among the better-known chapters in the entire Bible, and it is likely the best-known chapter of Ecclesiastes. It holds these distinctions partly because of the poem that begins it. Its subject is of great consequence to us.

A major lesson for us in this chapter is that we live our lives within time, and therefore, we make our choices in life within time. However, to make the best of life, we must recognize that God is sovereign over time—all the time. His rulership, His dominance, His sovereignty, over time is never relaxed. He oversees what happens within time all the time. His relationship with His children is very personal, making His calling personal and individual.

As Creator, He has goals that He set before the foundation of the world. They will be accomplished within an already set time. His goals also include what He desires to accomplish in and through us. A reality we must face is that time is always moving; time is running out for all of us. This fact is not intended to make us feel a sense of desperation, for God is so perfect and dominant over His creation and labors that He always has enough time. We, though, do not—a fact that God always takes into consideration. We can deal with this truth in our relationship with Him. This is where the issue of contentment can be quite helpful.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and Christian Living (Part Three): Time


 

Ecclesiastes 3:10-15

Among the mysteries that everybody must face is “Who am I?” and “Why am I here?” Another version of those questions is “Why was I born?” A partial but probably unsatisfying answer is that, unless God calls and reveals Himself to a person, he will never find the clear, detailed answer. Thus, Solomon states in verse 11, “No one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.” So that the called, those to whom God has revealed Himself, are thoroughly convinced of the great gift God has given them, a fuller version of this declaration appears in Ecclesiastes 8:17:

Then I saw all the work of God, that a man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun. For though a man labors to discover it, yet he will not find it; moreover, though a wise man attempts to know it, he will not be able to find it.

God undoubtedly planned much of this blindness. This does not mean that people will never hear the answer to “Why was I born?” in their lifetimes. But unless God is directly involved in calling them for His purposes, their hearing the simple and plain truth of it will not have the life-changing impact needed to change the direction of their lives. A person must be gifted by His calling (Matthew 13:10-17).

God has given everyone a spirit and a sense of eternity, enabling people to think both backward and forward in time. Men innately know that there is more to life than what they experience physically. However, they do not grasp the precise connection between their awareness of eternity and their present physical lives. They do, however, vaguely grasp that somehow the immortality they envision has some connection with what they are experiencing in the present. However, this is greatly botched, and misunderstanding is universal. The most common assumption is that we already possess it. But, if linked with revealed truth as God intended, it greatly aids people in thinking about the past concerning God's creative powers, His purpose, His sovereignty over all things, and how the individual fits into the present and future.

God has given gifts to all humanity, but only those called by Him are given more detailed and true explanations that will build their faith, enabling them to live by it. Unless God gives the details, we are all much like terribly near-sighted people who more or less feel their way along. Until they are called, the grand design that God is working out escapes their fuller comprehension, making the answer about who we are elusive.

The instruction in Ecclesiastes 3:10-15 encourages us to be content and patient. It is a reflection on and a reminder of the importance of what He already said about gifts in Ecclesiastes 2:24-26. We should be thankful and rejoice in what we already have because what we have is wonderful. Without directly stating a clear “why,” Solomon gently implies that God will add understanding as we are able to make good use of it.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and Christian Living (Part Four): Other Gifts


 

Ecclesiastes 3:16

In places within a culture where godliness must prevail so that people can live a truly good quality of life, Solomon instead found the grave impact of evil.

It is as if he has opened a door back to the harsh realities of this evil world, in which God has consigned us to live to prepare for His Kingdom. Living in this world while maintaining an “over the sun” way of life can be discouraging and difficult because its ever-present evil influences surround us, attempting to lure us into compromising with God's ways.

Overall, however, Ecclesiastes 3 is a strong, positive reminder of God's great gifting of us. In the face of everyday realities, though, we sometimes manage to forget to be thankful for that, allowing dangerous thoughts to arise that could motivate us back toward the world. Thus, Ecclesiastes 3:22 urges us to be content, exhorting us not to allow ourselves to be drawn into vanities, the often-attractive realities that the world holds out to us as invitations to rejoin it. Discouragement and a wandering mind go hand in hand.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and Christian Living (Part Five): Comparisons


 

Ecclesiastes 3:22

Ecclesiastes 3:22 is penetrating and fitting advice because we all have a tendency to let our minds drift. But nothing in the world can even begin to compare with having the assurance of eternal life in glory with God. Nothing can trump God's promises never to leave nor forsake us.

We must learn to live each day by faith, patiently, contentedly accepting each day's occurrences as they come, knowing we have been greatly blessed with something far more valuable than those in the world. Those in the world should be envying us!

John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and Christian Living (Part Five): Comparisons


 

Ecclesiastes 4:4-7

The major reason for hard work among men is rivalry, competition. Someone is trying to outdo somebody else, and success breeds envy in neighbors. So a person engages in hard work to outclass somebody else.

Solomon, however, reaches the conclusion that rivalry does not produce lasting companionship. What do rivalry and competition produce? Enemies. He then concludes that contentment is two times better than the futility of pursuing after gain, that is, keeping up with the Joneses is a futile thing for a person to do.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and the Feast of Tabernacles (Part 2)


 

Ecclesiastes 4:6

Ecclesiastes 4:6, without mentioning a specific worker that Solomon may have observed, presents us with a more balanced approach that we should strive for. Putting it simply, Solomon calls for contentment. One commentator calls this a picture of an “integrated” man; today, we might call him “balanced.” This person is productive in his labors, but he also carves out time for other important activities. He guards against being caught up in the rat race, finding time to balance his life through sharing himself with his family and other activities for their well-being.

Americans spend more time working than any other people in the industrialized world. We are part of an entire nation caught up in “getting” what we refer to as “the good life.” When a person's heart is consumed with constant “doing” or “working,” chasing after whatever he wants out of life, true quietness is ignored, and life gradually becomes a battle to ensure that all of his time is spent simply in “activity.” But God says so simply what our aim should be: “Now godliness with contentment is great gain” (I Timothy 6:6). This is a choice we are free to make. Solomon is teaching that, to have truly good work habits, a person must also make the choices to exercise a measure of contentment to balance life.

The industrious man reveals that he thinks life's sole purpose is material achievement. Meanwhile, the lazy person's self-serving, pleasure-seeking goal results in slow suicide. The balanced worker deliberately makes choices to divide time and energies to include the well-being of others too. What is the lesson so far? We can take what we want from life, but we must pay for what we take.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and Christian Living (Part Five): Comparisons


 

Ecclesiastes 6:9

Ecclesiastes 6:9 is Solomon's version of the cliché, “A bird in hand is worth two in the bush.” He is essentially saying, “It is better to have little and purposely enjoy it than to dream about much and never attain it.” A problem with dreams is that, all too often, they never become a reality. Thus, a sense of satisfaction and contentment remains unfulfilled. Solomon is not saying it is wrong to have a dream on which to spend our ambition, but that our ambition must be motivated for the glory of God and not the praise of men—including ourselves. If we think material achievements will automatically produce these qualities, we are wrong.

True satisfaction and contentment comes when we do the will of God from the heart for His glory. When that happens, we get to share in real satisfaction. In John 4:34, Jesus says, “My food [meaning that which energizes Him and fills His life with satisfaction] is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.” David adds in Psalm 16:11: “You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” That is real satisfaction and contentment. These verses reinforce the truth that satisfaction and contentment in life is within a relationship with God.

True happiness and these qualities in life do not automatically result from “making a good living.” Rather, they are a blessed byproduct of making a good life with God as our Leader. If one devotes his life to doing God's will, satisfaction and contentment will be its fruit.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and Christian Living (Part Seven): Contentment


 

Ecclesiastes 6:10-12

The meaning of these verses is mystifying. One commentator suggests this title: “Questions Without Answers.” This does not mean, though, that one should ignore God and His way and avoid receiving godly correction. Why? Because God does have the answers, and He reveals them individually within the relationship. We may need the answers very much.

The questions must be understood, at least somewhat, against the background of the context of the previous two chapters, in which he is showing that the roots of true satisfaction and contentment lie in God's gifting within a relationship with Him. In addition, we must understand them by evaluating the book's overall theme, in which he urges us to keep God's commandments, thus to live an above-the-sun life. We can also seek to grasp them by considering Solomon and what he reveals of himself.

Solomon presents a series of perplexing statements, but he gives no clear answers in the immediate context. Recall, however, that the overall subject of the chapter is about finding satisfaction in life, and he uses examples to illustrate circumstances about why life is puzzling and dissatisfying.

Let us consider Solomon himself. Did he know the answers? First, he probably knew the overall answer to satisfaction and contentment in life, but he did not necessarily experience it because he did not apply God's way well. It is difficult to see how, having a father like David, as well as the personal experiences he had with God early in his manhood, that he did not know the overall answer. However, did he truly believe it? Did he live it? Both are necessary.

God has not answered this in absolute terms as He does regarding David. We have no doubt that David will be in God's Kingdom. Based on what is in the Bible, the answer regarding Solomon is that he apparently fell short. Is he lost? We do not know.

Nevertheless, he knew intellectually what the missing link is. The answer to contentment in life hinges on whether one knows what God's overall purpose for his life is. It is another matter altogether whether we believe that purpose is true and make the effort to seek God and live as He commands by faith.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and Christian Living (Part Seven): Contentment


 

Ecclesiastes 6:10-12

Verse 10 is essentially saying that God is sovereign, and some things that He has established cannot be changed. Naming a thing is an indication that the thing so named is set. This is why the principles given in John 4:34 and Psalm 16:11 are so important to the converted. Being in God's presence is the overall solution. These statements by Jesus and David give assurance that contentment in life lies within the combination of properly blending the knowledge of God's purpose and deliberately choosing to live according to that purpose within a relationship with our very Creator.

This combination is what makes everything in life matter in a positive way, producing satisfaction and contentment in life. In this three-verse section, Solomon addresses four situations that revolve around not getting much in the way of these qualities from life because people do not give of themselves sufficiently to make the relationship work. Each verse, rather than answering, produces questions that, with a brief explanation, are helpful. If one does not get answers he can accept, then dissatisfaction and discontentment remain.

The questions that arise in these verses are expressions of justification that a converted person might give himself for not zealously throwing himself into the relationship with God. They are for the most part expressions of doubt that linger to support the lack of progress.

Solomon touches on five questions. The first is based in verse 10: “Since what's going to be is going to be, why bother to make decisions? Isn't it all predestined anyway?” This is broadly why some will not really cooperate with God in a relationship. Martin Luther gave this German proverb: “As things have been, so they still are; and as things are so shall they be.” In other words, the proverb is asking if there is anything we actually control. Things are so far from our control, why make an effort?

In this verse, the One “mightier than he” is God. We must firmly accept that God can indeed accomplish His purposes without our cooperation. He does not need us, but He most assuredly loves us! God indeed has “fixed,” that is, named what He will accomplish, but He has also given us free-moral agency.

We must know that the world we live in is not a prison. We are free to evaluate and then choose what our personal world will be, but we are not free to change what the consequences of our actions will be. This is why we should give everything thoughtful consideration. Stepping off the roof of a ten-story building may be our choice, but once we commit ourselves and do it, there is no altering the outcome! The reality is that our choices do make a great deal of difference. Like everything in life, they matter.

The second question is also based in verse 10. Why disagree with God? We cannot oppose Him and win, can we? This question suggests that God's will is difficult, painful to accomplish, and should be avoided at all costs.

Compare this with what Jesus says in Matthew 11:29-30: “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Add to this what He says earlier in His ministry about doing God's will being nourishing and energizing to a Christian (John 4:34). Why would anyone, making a fair analysis by comparing God's way with his self-chosen way and seeing what mankind has produced in this world, rather have his own way rather than God's? That makes no sense whatever!

If God really wanted to make life truly difficult, He would give man absolute freedom. It really builds satisfaction and contentment, right? No, not at all.

Like Job, we must know what our limits are, and one of them is that we do not have the wisdom to out-think and out-talk God. We must truly realize that the more we talk, the emptier our words become, which is exactly what happened to Job. This leads to the fact that humanity must accept that God, as sovereign Creator, is free to act as He sees fit in every situation. Such acceptance will help to produce the contentment that mankind yearns for.

The third question appears to be drawn from Solomon's many words in writing this book, in addition to all the words we might hear in sermons and the like. He asks, “What do we accomplish with all these words? Does talking about it solve the problems?”

Verse 11 in the New International Version reads, “The more words, the less the meaning, and how does that profit anyone?” Are we not receiving a thorough education in this as we listen to all the convoluted political and economic arguments in recent times? Yet, these are all words of men. The Word of God is exactly what is needed because it is truth! God's truths do not bind people; they free (John 8:32). Satisfaction and contentment are the fruits of truth that is accepted and used. One must listen to God's Word and use it for satisfaction in life.

The fourth question arises from verse 12: “Who knows what is good for us?” This question is directly linked to the previous one. It brings to mind a saying that this same Solomon states twice, in Proverbs 14:12 and 16:25: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”

Human history proves that without the knowledge of God, mankind finds himself satanically deceived, drifting forever on a vast sea of human speculations. However, God knows what is good for us, and He is willing to share it with His children. Without the knowledge of God's truth, life remains vanity, meaningless. God's Word says, “He who does the will of God abides forever” (I John 2:17)—in, I might add, satisfaction and contentment.

The fifth question also derives from verse 12: “Does anybody know what is coming next?” This question must be understood within the context of the entire book. It is not talking about small, day-to-day issues, but rather the huge ones that pertain to the overall purpose being worked out on earth. Of course, the answer is that nobody knows perfectly except for God. Everybody else's opinions are largely speculations. If God gave us more specific detail, it might severely damage the vital use of faith. He gives us enough information to keep us looking ahead and to encourage us to be patient and make the best use of the time that He gives us to prepare, because time is valuable.

The proper answer to all of these questions—especially if it is correct that they are self-justifications raised by converted persons due to a lack of growth—lies in one's use of the faith that God has given us to function within the relationship that He has opened to us.

Life is God's gift, and He desires that we spend it involved with Him, using our faith to prepare for an eternal relationship with Him in His Family Kingdom. This will produce the enjoyable satisfaction and contentment in life that He desires for us. Involving Him is the above-the-sun life.

If there is no Kingdom of God, and if no grand purpose is being worked out, then nothing matters except for what is happening at the moment. This mindset is tilted toward either humanism or secularism, and its fruit is the moral and ethical depravity of a Sodom and Gomorrah. Those with this mindset have nothing glorious to prepare for, so why should they deny themselves any pleasure, any excitement, that their minds and bodies desire right now? God's children, however, because they possess the faith, cannot allow themselves to drift into such a destructive mindset.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and Christian Living (Part Seven): Contentment


 

Ezekiel 28:12-17

We should never underestimate Satan's power nor his hatred for God and man. He surreptitiously broadcasts his evil, spiritual intents into our minds, subtly working to turn each member of the “little flock” away from God (Ephesians 2:2). We should carefully consider the account of his actions in Ezekiel 28:12-16 as typical of his modus operandi. Although nothing was withheld from him, as he was created by God as the ultimate in beauty and function, “perfect in [his] ways,” he did not remain true, turning away from God, a picture of cancerous discontent.

In verse 17, we see the source of this discontent—pride: “Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty. You corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendor.” Satan was full of pride, the very thing we must guard against so that we do not corrupt the wisdom God has given us.

Satan is called “an angel of light” because he has a talent for presenting evil in a good light, which can confuse and deceive us if we let our guards down and drift away from God's truth (II Corinthians 11:3, 14-15; see Revelation 12:9). Without this truth as our guide, we can easily fall prey to Satan's darts of discontent. After all, this is Satan's world for a while longer. So while we continue to witness the growth of discord and discontent based on his false notion that life should always be fair, we should anticipate and be thoroughly prepared for life—occasionally and even frequently—to be unfair, for now.

However, as we head into the final stages of the age of man, we should keep in mind that each of us was created by God, complete with everything we need to function according to His will. While we may lack the power, wealth, talent, and beauty that Satan—or perhaps a brother—has been gifted, we will soon be given so much more, if, among other things, we learn to be content with what our generous and loving God has provided us.

We should always remember that discontentment is common and hurtful, while contentment is rare and of great benefit (I Timothy 6:6). For true contentment is a byproduct of the gift of faith that each of us, as the elect, has been granted by God.

Foolishly comparing our lot in life with that of anyone else's can never bear any good fruit (II Corinthians 10:12). We should, instead, only measure ourselves by the Word of God—the life of Jesus Christ. In doing so, we will discover a proper perspective, finding peace, security, and contentment within God's sovereign plan (Philippians 4:6-11). Like Job, our focus need not be on what seems fair—what we possess or lose today—but on God's promises for our future, when we will take possession of the most indescribable gift of all, eternal life with our just and loving God!

Geoff Preston (1947-2013)
It's Not Fair!


 

Luke 12:15

The apostle Paul tells Timothy that "godliness with contentment is great gain" and that, instead of possessions, we should be pursuing righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, and gentleness. Paul learned to be content in whatever state he was in (Philippians 4:11). Jesus Christ set our primary goal as seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33). The inevitable result of doing this will be wonderful blessings and eternal life.

Martin G. Collins
The Tenth Commandment


 

1 Corinthians 7:17-24

Verse 24, as a summary of the whole paragraph, states a general, overall principle: We should be content with where God has placed us. God wants us to be content with the circumstances of our lives, for God Himself seems to be satisfied with them for the time being. What really matters is not what position we have, not how highly regarded we are, not how much authority we have, or whatever—but it is keeping the commandments that matters. If we are in a position, and we keep God's commandments, then it is likely that God Himself will change our circumstances for the better. He will find a way to promote us in time.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Countering Presumptuousness


 

Philippians 4:11-13

Paul demonstrates the proper attitude to have: He was content whether poor or prosperous, whether weak or strong, whether people loved him or hated him. It is not easy to do sometimes, but he says, "Whatever state I'm in, I'm going to be content because, when I have Christ in me, I can do anything that He wants me to do. So I can't think about those other things. I have to be content with what God has given."

A person's condition or his position does not need to matter a whit as long as Christ is working through him.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Countering Presumptuousness


 

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Paul addresses I Thessalonians 5:16-18 directly to us, and its commands can greatly affect our attitudes during trials so that we make the best use of them without getting down on life: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” These are quite challenging! But since God commands them of us, they are things that He will enable us to accomplish. Therefore, they are not impossible tasks.

These are attitudes and actions that we can control. Other scriptures reveal that God permits us to be saddened or disappointed about what is happening. For example, the gospels say that Jesus sorrowed about various things. Here, Paul's concern is that, in our relationship with God—as the mention of prayer establishes—we will not remain depressed for an extended time because of our contact with God. We should be able to come out of our funks. If we do not, it is because we are too focused on ourselves.

These commands guard against allowing ourselves to sink from an upbeat, positive, and hopeful attitude of a child of God to a discouraged and self-centered one. How? By doing spiritual work directly in relation to God, holding onto God in the midst of all circumstances in life. Peter writes that if God is our hope, He will lift us up (I Peter 5:6-7).

I Timothy 6:6-8 reminds us of an important reality: “Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.” This passage's central issue concerns wealth. Great discontentment and discouragement are generated through coveting wealth. However, the attitude of a reasoned, faith-based contentment, regardless of economic circumstances, causes great spiritual gain.

Within a relationship with God, this faith-based attitude greatly assists in enabling a Christian to live an “over the sun” life. In a converted person's mind, because he is living such a life, God is the Central Figure, and he accepts whatever life throws his way. A Christian with that focus works his way through his trials, overcoming the pulls toward self-centeredness because he knows God is with him.

Without God being the beacon that provides guidance and encouragement, a person can much more easily drift into an easily discouraged, discontented, covetous, “life is down on me,” self-centered existence. When that happens, spiritual progress grinds to a halt.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and Christian Living (Part Three): Time


 

1 Timothy 6:6-8

When we are thankful, it means that we have been impressed with a sense of kindness that has been expressed toward us, and we desire to acknowledge it. Essentially, it indicates that we are grateful. Thankfulness is the actual expression of our gratitude and acknowledgement of the kindness done to us. Thankfulness is also a state of mind, an attitude. It is a content and positive perspective, which does not focus on what one does not have, but rather values what one does have, no matter how basic.

Paul continues this thought in the following verses, explaining that greediness creates a great many problems, ultimately bringing upon us discontent and unhappiness. This is just the opposite of the thankfulness that real contentment generates.

Reading these verses on greed and considering the greedy state of man's mind, a popular bumper sticker from several years ago comes to mind: "He who dies with the most things . . . wins." Of course, it did not take long for those whose thinking ran counter to this to reply with their own that read, "He who dies with the most things . . . is dead." This is true; the pursuit of material gain to the exclusion of all else ends in death.

Being thankful is part of being content. Unfortunately, many people feel that being content means that they have to give up on their dreams and goals. It does not. Like thankfulness, contentment is a state of mind. God wants us to be content with and thankful for what we have been given. That does not mean that we cannot want better and work to make our situations better, but it does mean that we should not approach our proper desire for more with a greedy, covetous attitude.

Nor can we compare what others have and what we may not have from an attitude that we deserve the same or even better. Maybe we do deserve it, but right now God has chosen not to give it to us, and we must be content with that and thankful for what we have been given.

How thankful and content we are can be seen in the illustration of water in a glass. Is the glass half-full or half-empty? Our answer depends on and reveals our state of mind.

Staff
Daily Thanksgiving


 

2 Timothy 4:6-7

Paul was ready to pass the mantle on to young men like Timothy and Titus, to take care of the churches in the Gentile world. The apostle looked back on his life and saw what he had accomplished. He had done a great work for God. He had gone from persecuting the church to being its greatest champion in preaching the gospel throughout the Gentile world.

He realized that he had done the best that he could. And look what he did! He penned fourteen books of the Bible, founded who knows how many churches, and caused the conversion of many people. He looked back and said, "I've lived a full life. I've finished the task that God set for me. I have no regrets for the life I've lived since conversion."

He surely regretted what he had done before conversion, but that was past. Those acts had been forgiven, and he had proceeded on to the great things that God had in mind for him. He would not rage against God or accuse Him of treating him unfairly, although he had been beaten and flogged many times for the gospel's sake. He had been stoned and left for dead, nearly drowned in the sea, and suffered hunger and thirst—the many "perils of Paul." But they meant nothing to him at this point. He had no regrets. His life had been lived to the fullest for God. He did not complain that he deserved better, that he should go to his rest in peace. He asked for nothing. He was content.

The antidote to presumptuousness can be whittled down to the attitude of contentment, which Paul displayed. If one is content, he is not presumptuous. A contented person is satisfied with his position, with what life has dealt him, his lot in life. He is happy where God has put him and does not ask for more, but he is willing to fulfill his task to the best of his abilities.

He is not always striving to get ahead, to be the leader, or to have so many things. To the contented man, that is not how life should be lived. He is not out to receive notoriety or fame. He does not seek the respect of everyone. He does not necessarily desire to be recognized for all his accomplishments or even need to be accepted all the time. A person who is truly content is never presumptuous.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Countering Presumptuousness


 

Hebrews 13:5

The author is writing about being covetous, meaning that we want more for ourselves - things that others seem to have and we do not. So he writes, "Be content with what you have. Don't get all riled up about it."

It is very interesting that he says, "Be content," and then, "God has told you He will never leave you nor forsake you." When we are discontent and dissatisfied, one of the first thoughts that we normally have is that God has abandoned us, that He does not care about us, that He has not blessed us. Paul says, "Don't think that way. Be content with where you are because God has not left you. He will never leave you nor forsake you. You are exactly where He wants you, so you have no reason to be discontent. God has placed you in the body where it pleases Him." And that should be enough for us.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Countering Presumptuousness


 

Jude 1:6

Jude puts this in an interesting way. They were not "the bad angels," or even "the angels who sinned." He calls them "the angels who were not content with where God had placed them."

We know from Revelation 12:4 that one-third of the angels were under Helel's hand, and he convinced them to leave their proper domain—the place where they had dominion, the place of their responsibility and authority—so that they could get more for themselves. In doing this, they sinned. Their discontent caused them to attempt to take by force what had not been given, but which they thought they deserved. This is the same thing that happened in Korah's rebellion (Numbers 16:1-35).

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Countering Presumptuousness


 

Find more Bible verses about Contentment:
Contentment {Nave's}
Contentment {Torrey's}
 




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