The Real Source of Contentment
I think there are two kinds of people - those who are covetous, and there are those who are content. You are either covetous, or you are content. I don’t think you can be both. There are few things that are so mutually exclusive as covetousness and contentment. Like oil and water, they won’t mix. You are either covetous or content.
Is there anything that a person could desire more than contentment? The only reason a person becomes covetous is because he wants to become content. So he feels if he is able to gain whatever it is he covets, that will make him content. The word contentment here means to be sufficient within yourself. It means to possess a strength that is sufficient. One translation says to be strong enough for anything, to ward off or defend against anything—to be self sufficient, to be self-sustaining. Another word would be satisfied.
I wonder how many of us this describes our Christian life.
Let me ask you a few questions that may help provide some insight into what you makes you feel content.
What do you complain about the most?
What are you most disappointed with?
What do you sacrifice your time or your money for?
What keeps you up at night?
What do you worry about?
How do you respond when someone other than you gets good news?
Where do you find comfort when you’re hurting?
- Comfort food?
At the end of your day, how do you measure if you’ve been successful?
Whose applause have you been seeking?
What is it that you think you are missing from your life?
The only reason a person becomes covetous is so that he might become content.
The word covetous is commonly translated as “marked by an excessive desire for wealth.” Normally, we associate that desire as—a love of money. It doesn’t mean having money. It means loving money, having such an emotional attachment to money that it dominates us, possesses us. But the word really is broader than just a love for money. It simply means dissatisfaction with what you have and an obsession to obtain something you do not have. It may be things, friendship, something tangible, something intangible, money, may not be money.
It is to have such a greedy and grasping spirit that you are never satisfied with what you have, and you always want more. You burn every bit of energy. It occupies your mind. It absorbs your thoughts. It drains your energy. Your heart is the path to it. Matthew 6:21 says, “Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be." Which person are you? Are you covetous, or are you contented? Do you know what goes along with contentment? Confidence! In verse 5 the writer says let your way of life be free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He himself said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.” So that we confidently say, “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”
When a person is content and has learned the secret of that inner sufficiency that makes him satisfied in any circumstance, he is a person who always has a confident confession. You can come up to him in the midst of the greatest battle and ask how goes the battle, and he will give you a word of confidence.
God says two things: 1) I will never desert you. 2) Nor will I ever forsake you. Another bible translation has it: I will never fail you; I will never forsake you.
First of all, he says I will never fail you. If you look this passage up in the Greek New Testament, you’ll discover that there are three negatives before each verb. When he says I will never desert you, there are three negatives there. When he says nor will I ever forsake you, there are three negatives there.
Here is what he is saying. I will not, I will not, I will not fail you. I will not, I will not, I will not forsake you. Do you think God meant what he was saying? I don’t know about you, but that impresses me because God is of such a nature and character that he rarely ever repeats himself. But he says three times in that same verse, I will not, I will not, I will not fail you. I will not, I will not, I will not forsake you. I tell you what. That gives me confidence. After a while, it begins to get through to me that God is trying to say to me I will not fail you.
This word fail is an interesting word. What God is promising here in this situation is his power. This word “fail” means to withdraw a hand that sustains us. It means to let go, to release a grip on somebody, to give somebody up. Here is what God is saying. The Bible says that I am in God’s hands.
John 10:28-30 - I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.
The writer comes along and quotes what God has said. He said I will never withdraw my hand that holds you up. I will never release or loosen my grip upon you. He says not only will I not fail you; I will not forsake you. The first one is a promise of God’s power, God’s protection. The second one is a promise of God’s presence, and isn’t that awesome? He says I won’t forsake you.
God is saying not only will I not fail you; my power is going to be with you. I myself am going to be with you. That is why you ought to be content. You ought to be content because I am with you. If I’m not with you, you wouldn’t be content with everything. But when I am with you, you will be content with anything. I’ll never leave you behind. My presence shall go before you.
Jesus makes these audacious, remarkable statements. He said if any man thirst, let him come to me. All ye that labor and are heavy laden, come unto me and I will give you rest. Jesus always pointed to himself as the source of all the sufficiency. That’s all you need.