Contentment versus Contempt

There’s an Irving Berlin song that goes, “After you get what you want, you don’t want it.” That is the main point of this posting, finding contentment. We are never satisfied and all too often it drives us crazy.

Most people want “more,” or “bigger,” or “better.” Whatever we consider to be happiness seems to be connected somehow with getting what we want. The Bible makes no promises of wealth, prosperity, celebrity or any other superficial goal. Why can’t we just be content?

Be content in what you have

The writer of the Book of Hebrews gave us a warning:

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’” (Hebrews 13:5)

God desires a relationship with us and it is His desire that we would want Him. It’s not like a jilted lover getting cut loose in the romance, but it’s simply that God, our creator, loves us and made us an object of that love.

Any parent would want their son or daughter to love them back and want to be with them, so it is no mystery that God would want us to want that close relationship with Him. But we focus on other things. Instead of God, we long after things, material things. The trouble is, it’s insatiable. We’re never satisfied.

Has few material things but still content

I have known people, who by most standards, would be considered living in poverty. As a young man, I met a couple from church who lived paycheck to paycheck. The good news is that although they had little to nothing, they had Jesus in their life. They had what they needed and were content. Because of Jesus they were satisfied. Their two children were provided for. Dare I say it, they were happy.

As a young man I didn’t understand the source of their happiness. It was God. It took me a lot of years to see that. That contentment was something that could not be taken away from them. This close-knit family, with God at the center, was just fine.

Many who have everything but are NEVER satisfied… Nothing is enough!

I spent many years covering sports as a journalist. I met people who were so driven that they could not enjoy their successes. Nothing was enough. Win, win, win. And they did win, but there was no joy. Titles and money were the payoff, but there was no fulfillment. It struck me as very sad.

Acceptance often major key to contentment

I now coach baseball at the high school level. We encourage our players to love God, love one another, work hard at their skills and accept the results that will follow. Win, lose or draw, players know that there is contentment and satisfaction in leaving it all on the field. It’s fun to compete.

Without the pressure of winning, the boys have done a lot of winning over the years. They have victory in Jesus, and a couple of state titles. Over the years, only one went on to play professionally, but even that is secondary in the young man’s life. He loves God. He is content.

Paul able to be content in prison, hard to imagine, but true

So much of the Apostle Paul‘s writing came about when he was in prison. But even then, he talks about being content. Not happy, content. There’s a difference.

The man poured out the grace and love of God in his writings, all the while suffering physical discomfort and a lack of freedom. It teaches us to look ahead, to look for the future that God promises through His son. This life is temporary, but the Kingdom of God shall never end and we are promised a permanent place in it. Things of this world will pass away, so why hold on to them?

Don’t waste time having contempt for contentment.