Each topic in this series uniquely considers the various aspects of a Christian’s life, showing how to achieve a deeper level of devotion to Christ and experience greater personal transformation. This week’s topic on contentment gets to the heart of the experience of Spiritual Disciplines. Paul wrote in 1 Tim 6:6–8, “But godliness with contentment is great gain, 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.”
In our consumer culture, there is always more to be gained—another rung on the ladder to be climbed. In some ways, this type of ambition is a good thing as people strive for more instead of settling for less than what God is ready to supply. But being content is learning to live in the balance of both extremes. In one sense, contentment is not settling, while finding satisfaction in where you are and what you have. Contentment is based on the understanding that you are already rich in Christ (Eph. 1), and you possess everything needed to live godly in Christ (2 Peter 1:3).
Many of the disciplines are personal, not depending on other people. However, some disciplines, like contentment, are “others-entered” and not “self-centered.” Contentment causes us to arrange our lives in consideration of the needs of others. One lesson we learn from the life of Christ is that he became poor for us. Leaving the glories of heaven, the eternal Son of God was manifested in the flesh, born in a stable and wrapped in rags. He sacrificed, gave, lived simply, and served others. He did not come seeking earthly riches, He knew he already possessed all the wealth of creation and instead chose to live in contentment that others may be made rich (2 Corinthians 8:9).
We prove that we are content in Christ and in his provision when we choose not to live extravagant lifestyles that only benefit our personal gratification. This guards the heart from finding security or satisfaction in temporal things instead of in God. It also frees us to have expendable resources so that we can more readily give and provide for the needs of others. You don’t have to be rich to be a giver. You simply need to be disciplined in your lifestyle by living below your means.
Every Christian is called to be a giver since it reflects the heart of God who did not spare even his own Son, but gave him up for us. This might mean giving not just out of your excess, but also from your personal expenses. To give sacrificially is to deny yourself something that you need in order to give to the needs of others, elevating their needs above your own. We do this for the sake of the gospel and out of love for one another.
A Christian chooses to live simply because they recognize above any other group that they are stewards of Another. The means and resources that are at your disposal are not yours, but God’s. Therefore, being content in what God has supplied to you as a steward is implied in your role.