WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
AUGUST 8, 2021
TOPIC: LEARN TO BE CONTENT
BY T. O. BANSO
“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. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1Timothy 6:6-10 New King James Version).
The Holman Bible Dictionary defines contentment as “An internal satisfaction which does not demand changes in external circumstances.” The Greek word for contentment is autarkeia which means “self-satisfaction, i.e. (abstractly) contentedness, or (concretely) a competence – contentment, sufficiency” (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance). According to Easton’s Bible Dictionary, it is “A state of mind in which one’s desires are confined to his lot whatever it may be.”
Thayer’s Greek Lexicon defines contentment (Greek: autarkeia) as “a perfect condition of life, in which no aid or support is needed.” According to Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, contentment is “Freedom from anxiety or worry.” “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8 New King James Version). The Greek word translated sufficiency in this scripture is autarkeia.
Some troubles that human beings go through in life are due to a lack of contentment. We have no internal satisfaction. We demand changes in our external circumstances or pursue internal satisfaction by trying to change our external circumstances. We are often unable to achieve this or the circumstances keep changing, which makes internal satisfaction impossible. We are not free from anxiety or worry.
If we are not going to be in a perpetual state of worry, we must learn contentment in whatever circumstances we find ourselves. This is not the same thing as complacency. It is not resigning to fate. It is not idleness. Contentment does not mean that you do nothing to improve yourself. It doesn’t mean not having a goal in life provided you’re not driven by competition. It means that your internal satisfaction is independent of your circumstances – whether you have achieved your goal or not. Your internal satisfaction is derived from God.
1 Timothy 6:17 says, “Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy” (New King James Version).
Paul wrote to the Philippians, “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:11-13 New King James Version).
Paul is believed to have written this letter to the Philippians in A. D. 60 when he was in the Roman prison. That was a negative circumstance. But the tone of the letter didn’t suggest that he was stressed out, agitated, depressed, or under tension. His external circumstance was not satisfactory but he had internal satisfaction. This was because he wasn’t looking at or meditating on his circumstance or comparing his circumstance with the circumstances of others who were not imprisoned.
In Philippians 4:10, he praised the Lord and thanked the Philippians for being concerned about him again as they had always been but for a while didn’t have the chance to help him. Then, he said it was not that he was ever in need because he had learnt how to be content whether he had much or little. He said he could live on almost nothing or with everything. He had learnt the secret of living in every situation, whether with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. In other words, he could live happily in any situation (verses 11-12).
Not many people could do this and this had made them become slaves to others. Instead of focusing on God and live through a temporary circumstance of change, they would rather try to change the circumstance hoping that it would bring them satisfaction.
When he had little, he was not bothered by the change in his condition; he maintained his internal satisfaction which was not dependent on the circumstance but on God. When he had much, he enjoyed it but he was not a slave to the circumstance. He had learnt both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. Hear the next thing he said: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13 New King James Version). That was a contented man.
The Amplified Bible explains the meaning of being content this way: “Not that I speak from [any personal] need, for I have learned to be content [and self-sufficient through Christ, satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or uneasy] regardless of my circumstances” (Philippians 4:11).
Because of lack of contentment, many people go into things they should have avoided. Because they cannot endure a season of shortage, they complicate their condition by enjoying more than they should today on credit and create unnecessary pain for themselves tomorrow. But Paul said he knew how to be full and go without food. He knew how to have wealth and be in need.
It wasn’t that Paul didn’t receive financial support from any church. He did and said so himself. The Philippians supported Paul generously. “Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only. For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account. Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God” (Philippians 4:15-18 New King James Version).
In 2 Corinthians 11:8, he told the Corinthians that he “robbed” other churches by accepting their contributions so that he could serve the Corinthians at no cost. He said what he lacked, the brethren who came from Macedonia supplied (verse 9).
There is nothing wrong in asking for financial support for the ministry but Christians, including ministers, must eschew greed and covetousness. “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (Luke 12:15 New King James Version).
Some people ask for help but are even enjoying more luxury than those they are seeking support from. It shows they have not gotten their priorities right or they are living in denial of their condition. You can learn contentment as Paul did.
Writing to Timothy, Paul said, “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. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1Timothy 6:6-10 New King James Version).
Godliness with contentment is great gain. The Bible in Basic English says, “But true faith, with peace of mind, is of great profit.” Weymouth’s New Testament says, “And godliness *is* gain when associated with contentment.” Another translation says, “Now godliness with contentment is truly gainful” (Montgomery’s New Testament). Learn to be content.
The lack of contentment because of envy, greed, covetousness, and the likes has created in some people the love of money which pushed them into activities or ventures that eventually destroyed them The Bible says having food and clothing, with these, we shall be content. That’s talking about the basic needs of life. But what pushes many into crime is not need but greed. Without contentment, no matter what someone has accumulated, he will never enjoy peace of mind. Contentment is not in what you have or where you are in life.
Hebrews 13:5 says, “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’” (New King James Version). In Luke 3:14, John told the soldiers who came to him for baptism and asked what they must do, not to extort from any man by violence, accuse anyone wrongfully, and be content with their wages.
Learn to be content. Look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith; don’t look at your external circumstances. That’s how to be content. His grace is sufficient for you as the Lord said to Paul. Paul said, “And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10 New King James Version). It is not possible to rejoice in one’s sufferings as Paul did (Colossians 1:24) if one is looking at one’s circumstances and not Christ.
Learn to be content. Proverbs 16:8 says better is a little with righteousness than vast revenues without justice. Jesus said not to worry about your life, what you will eat, or about the body, what you will put on for life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing (Luke 12:22-23). When death comes, nobody takes any possession out of this world.
Learn to be content. Start by cultivating a lifestyle of gratitude to God. Be constantly grateful for what He has done for you and how far you have come in life. Avoid covetousness, envy, or comparison. Put your trust in God. Enjoy what you have and where you are; don’t be anxious about what you lack or want. Philippians 4:6-7 says be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Learn to be content.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.I believe you have said this prayer from your heart.
Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: Father, I repent of my lack of contentment and every other sin that is responsible for this in my life. I will no more be covetous, envious, or greedy in Jesus’ name. Holy Spirit, help me to look unto Jesus in every circumstance, not at my circumstance. Father, I receive from you internal satisfaction which is independent of my external circumstance. I receive freedom from anxiety or worry in Jesus’ name.
(For over 600 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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