Word for the Week
Short reflections on Bible passages, with a frontline focus...
But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.
1 Timothy 6:6-8
I have an old book at home, written by Jeremiah Burroughs in the 17th century, called The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment. The title paints a picture in itself – contentment is a rare and precious thing.
Would you say you are content, or do you have a gnawing anxiety that others are getting a better deal, achieving more, or having more fun than you? We can easily find ourselves gripped by envy and a fear that others are succeeding when we are not.
Jenny posts news of her job promotion and announces she has just bought a new apartment while you are stuck with part-time casual jobs and struggling to pay the rent. Andy blogs regularly with news of his backpacking adventures through South America, which you read while sandwiched on the morning commuter train. You find yourself envious and irritated at the same time.
Why do we find it so hard to be content? It seems to be how we are wired, part of our human nature. Back in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve had just about everything. But, when presented with the opportunity, they seemed to want more.
So how do we deal with envy and find contentment? Being thankful to God for every good gift and learning to trust him to provide is a good start.
Being clear on what is important to us also helps us overcome envy and that awful fear of missing out on life’s best. The psalmist made his priorities clear like this: ‘I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked’ (Psalm 84:10). He had settled his priorities and knows that contentment comes from living and working in close relationship with God.
What is your ideal picture of contentment? Maybe relaxing with a cool drink? A quiet evening at home with Netflix? But such feelings of ‘contentment’ can quickly pass. One phone call from a troubled friend or family member quickly breaks the spell.
The Bible offers us a deeper kind of contentment, an inner ‘shalom’ which comes from knowing that God loves and accepts us, no matter what pressures we experience. It grows when we make a habit of being thankful for what God has provided, and when we keep clear in our minds who and what is truly important to us.
Graham is a Company Director and former Senior Executive with a global infrastructure company. His latest book Proving Ground – 40 Reflections on Growing Faith at Work is published by Christian Focus.
In what ways are you envious of others? How can you turn that into thankfulness and find greater contentment? Join in the conversation in the comments below.