ContentmentAugust 22, 2011 10:00 am contentment
One of the key passages in the New Testament on contentment is Philippians 4:11-13. The Greek word used by Paul for contentment in verse 4 is autarkes. In the middle voice, this word means, “to be satisfied, to be contented with” (Vine, I, 234). In I Tim. 6:6, Paul’s famous formula for success, “godliness with contentment is great gain” the word for contentment is autarkeia and means, “satisfaction with what one has found, contentment.”
What is contentment? Contentment is “tranquility of spirit that finds complete satisfaction in God’s grace.” Jeremiah Burroughs defines contentment as “that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God’s wise and fatherly disposal in every condition” (quoted by William Barcley in The Secret of Contementment, 34). In short, contentment is being completely satisfied with God’s sufficiency. The apostle Paul knew that the circumstances of his life were in God’s hands. God’s Providential care would not fail Paul. Paul learned the secret of contentment was to trust God’s provisions, protection, presence and purposes for his life.
Discontentment is just the opposite. Discontentment is not being satisifed with what God provides. Discontentment leads to murmuring. Murmuring is a sign of unbelief. This is illustrated by the conduct of the children of Israel during the wildnerness wanderings. In Numbers 11:5-6, Moses records their words of complaint, “We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlick; But now our soul is dried away: there is nothing at all, besides this manna, before our eyes.” Manna in the morning, manna for lunch, manner for supper, manna, manna, manna, they were sick and tired of manna. However, manna was God’s provision for sustaining their lives! They were not content with what God supplied. Their murmuring betrayed the discontent that revealed their unbelief. They did not trust God to take care of them.
Why did they do this? Numbers 11:4, they fell a lusting! The lusts of the flesh caused them to loath the provisions God made for their lives. Manna was a blessing from God miraculously provided by Him to sustain their lives every day for forty years! They could not receive it with gratitude because of the lusts of their hearts. We will not experience contentment until we slay the lusts of the flesh. We must put to death the old man of sin and stop serving sin (Romans 6:6). We must stop living to fulfill the lusts of the flesh and start living to fulfill God’s purposes for our lives.
Contentment results when faith conquers the flesh. Paul wrote, “the just shall live by faith” (Rom. 1:16-17). Sometimes Paul had everything he needed and sometimes he was in want. Paul had learned that whatever state he was in-therewith to be content. Paul accepted by faith God’s provisions for his life. Paul never murmured against God! Absolute faith in God motivated him to write,”I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” This is a statement of faith that demonstrates that Paul had conquered the flesh. Faith conquers the flesh by refusing to serve sin and rather focuses on serving God. Faith praises God for His providential care. Trust produces gratitude for God’s grace. God’s grace is sufficient for us. We can be satisfied with God’s sufficiency! At this point, we have discovered contentment.