What does the Bible say about contentment?

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According to Scripture, there’s a secret to being content in any and every situation.

Everyone craves contentment.

The yearning that accompanies this desire is intense, and every person seeks to have this alluring desire met, whether or not they realize they’re engaged in this pursuit.

Our society is saturated with messages of discontentment.

We’re surrounded by voices that tell us how and why we can move from discontent to satisfaction. These messages come in very convincing ways, and their promises are enticing.

Marketing schemes are created to convince you that you should feel discontentment toward a specific thing, and then provide a lucrative answer to your problem.

Consider the messages we receive daily that promise fulfillment by acquiring something better, bigger, faster, or prettier. We’re urged to find gratification by achieving more, making more, or pushing harder to make a name for ourselves.

You and I may experience discontentment in different areas, but all of us have bents that cause us to be dissatisfied with certain things.

Money and things will not bring contentment.

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What is the definition of discontentment?

Dictionary.com defines discontent as, “a restless desire or craving for something one does not have”.

Discontentment can present as a nagging sense of overall restlessness or unhappiness, and we may not be able to identify an exact root cause. Other times, however, we know with pinpoint clarity the exact area of our struggle.

If we recognize and expose the specific areas of discontentment in our lives, then we can be specific in our approach to progress toward being free from its grip on us.

Some people have a desire for stuff. And more stuff. This could include items in your wardrobe, the car you drive, or your home. Jewelry, furniture, collectibles – literally anything that incites a lust for more can be included.

Others may struggle with discontent regarding their physical appearance. This could encompass your body type, weight, or hair color. Anything from eye color to cellulite can be included.

Relationships are another area that can cause unrest and discontentment. Relationship status, the female relationships you do (or don’t) have, or the quality of your family relationships could all fall under this category.

Finances. Your place of employment, your position, or your salary.


I want to be crystal clear about something – there is not one thing wrong with any of the above things in and of themselves.

Having nice things is not wrong. Setting goals and pursuing them is wise and beneficial. Wanting to have a better job, save more money, or take nice trips are not wrong!

A deeper issue of discontentment is probable when:

  • A desire becomes unhealthy in perspective as it takes a place of utmost importance.
  • They are placed in a position of the heart where they have authority over us and become the driving force behind our words and actions.
  • The quest to acquire your object of desire becomes consuming.
  • Feelings of anxiety, restlessness, or sadness result in a lust for more that never satisfies.

Check out my YouTube video that identifies 5 things that can squelch our contentment.

A secret to contentment?

Did you know there’s a man who said he learned the secret of being content in any and every situation?

Any and every situation.

That’s a pretty grandiose statement, don’t you think?

Now what if I told you that statement was made by an innocent man in jail who had no idea what his future held – whether he would be freed or killed.

In addition to his current imprisonment, this man endured tremendous suffering. Beaten with rods three times. Stoned once. Shipwrecked three times. He experienced death threats, personal rejections, and other dangerous situations. He went hungry, thirsty, and sleepless.

You may have already guessed the man who made this proclamation was Paul.

I don’t know about you, but framing the fact that he learned the secret to contentment against the backdrop of hardship and suffering causes me to sit at attention, take out my pen and paper, and take notes as I lean in to learn.

It’s one thing to make this bold declaration while living in luxury wanting for nothing, but it’s quite another while unjustly confined to a jail cell.

“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things through Him who gives the strength.” (Philippians 4:11-13 NIV).

Key principles to Paul’s secret of being content

Contentment will never be found in our storehouse or circumstances, it’s a posture of heart.

Paul is very clear that our circumstances do not determine our contentment.

Favorable circumstances does not equate contentment.

It’s very possible to have every earthy treasure you desire and a grumbling heart of disdain and a never-ending desire for more.

Contentment is not something we pursue, it’s something we rest in.

Have you ever become preoccupied with “one thing” that you wanted so intently that you became fixated on it and felt as though you just had to have it in order to be content?

Maybe you even thought to yourself, “Once I get ___________, then I will be fulfilled.”

You may have thought once you acquire that “one thing” your life will be complete and you won’t long for anything else. Only thing is, once you obtain that “one thing” something else inevitably takes its place. The “one thing” could be anything…

  • College graduation
  • Getting married
  • Having a baby
  • Quitting a particular job
  • Becoming debt free
  • Overcoming a physical ailment
  • Retirement
  • A reconciled relationship
  • A new house, new car, new wardrobe – any “stuff”
  • New friends
  • Better salary or position at work

Paul doesn’t instruct his readers to position themselves to fulfill their desires, pursue comfort, or achieve their personal goals for fulfillment!

On the contrary, he urges his audience to rest under the hand of our sovereign God, regardless of surrounding circumstances, and rest in who we are in Him.

Contentment is to be experienced now, not a destination to arrive at.

In any and every situation, Paul leaned into the secret that he learned to be content, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

We don’t need to wait for eternity to embrace contentment, we can experience it now!

You and I cannot manufacture contentment for ourselves. No self-help seminar can equip us, nor can any other person or thing bring us the satisfaction our soul craves.

Only Jesus can satisfy our deepest longings.

We can experience contentment because of who we are in Christ!

Godliness with contentment is great gain. 1 Timothy 6:6

5 ways to cultivate a heart that finds contentment in Christ.

1. Ask the Lord to open your eyes to habits that fuel discontentment and adjust your perspective accordingly.

The examples in this post are not an exhaustive list but should provide you with food for thought regarding areas of discontent that can be a snare.

Being able to identify an area in our life that fosters discontentment is a key step in breaking this cycle and realigning our thoughts with how true satisfaction is found from a Biblical perspective.

We need to ask ourselves:

  • Upon who or what is my gaze fixed? My own desires and wants? Or are my eyes fixed on Jesus, having an eternal perspective?

2. Keep your identity in Christ at the forefront of your mind.

The Westminster Catechism speaks to the issue of satisfaction of our soul when it states, “Man’s chief and highest end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever”.

Ever stop to reflect on the fact that God wants us to enjoy Him?

A portion of the Bible study I wrote, Wholly Devoted, comes to mind that further develops this idea:

“We were created to enjoy a thriving, growing, personal relationship with our Creator – the lover of our souls. We can’t forget the thrill of the love affair God intended for us to enjoy with Him.

Our relationship with God is not meant to be boring or dull. He can touch our hearts as no one or nothing else is able and thrill us as we never could have imagined. God forbid we hang our heads thinking we signed up for a life of martyrdom!

We have the privilege to enjoy Him with the content and satisfaction unattainable from any other source, but we’re constantly tempted to doubt this truth and displace our affections.

Our God is more than able to satisfy us.

In a society that emphasizes our discontent, we are bombarded with things to fix this nagging gap of unrest, and we try in vain to achieve rest for our souls as if to cram a square peg into a circular opening. We were created to glorify God and enjoy him. This is God’s design.” (Wholly Devoted, Jennifer Brooks, p. 159)

We are able to experience contentment because of who we are in Christ. HE is the foundation of Paul’s secret.

When the time, energy, and focus of our pursuits tarry from our God-ordained purpose and turn to self-initiated pursuits, we should not be surprised if discontentment results. Remember, God created us with the ability to live in complete contentment – and it’s found in Jesus.

We are on this planet to know, love, and serve Jesus. Keeping our ultimate life’s calling and purpose at the forefront of our minds is crucial regarding our contentment.

3. Choose to have a thankful heart.

Quoting once again from Wholly Devoted:

“It’s human nature to emphasize things we do not have or things we wish we had rather than emphasize the blessings we do have.

Being thankful for the blessings we have prevents us from focusing on the things we do not have. We can choose to emphasize our external riches in Christ over the temporal things that are here today and gone tomorrow. Ask God to train your eye to his perspective pertaining to your blessings. When your perspective meshes with His, you cannot help but be thankful.

One thing that God is teaching me is sometimes we have to choose to have a thankful perspective.

I remember one night when my second child was a newborn and I was getting him ready for bed. I had just finished feeding him, and he was about to nod off to sleep when his older brother unintentionally woke him up as he ran up the stairs. I was exhausted and frustrated. I can remember making the decision at that moment to be thankful that our newborn’s ears could hear and that he had an older brother to wake him.

I certainly don’t live in a mindset of perpetual thankfulness, but I do pray and ask God to give me and our children thankful hearts. Sometimes we just plain have to choose to be thankful. (Wholly Devoted, Jennifer Brooks, p. 97.)

I have learned the secret to being content in any and every situation. Philippians 4:12

4. Ask the Lord to fill your heart with His joy.

It’s easy to get bogged down by the mundane.

Other times our lives are downright exhausting and it is all we can do to keep our head above water as we put one foot in front of the other.

There are also days when our emotions overwhelm us with sorrow, pain, heartbreak, guilt, and so many other things. You and I absolutely need the power of the Holy Spirit to experience joy in the undercurrent of our soul so we can experience it on good days as well as bad days.

Joy is a fruit of the spirit. (Galatians 5:22) We can pray and ask God to multiply the fruit of the spirit of joy in our lives.

Psalm 118:24 says, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” This is not declaring a choice in mere mood, it’s a choice of confident assurance that God is in control, and he’s taking care of us. We can choose joy in the midst of knowing and trusting our sovereign God.

When our children were young and I was a stay-at-home mom I remember one particularly exhausting day complaining to my husband, Joe, that I feel like all I do day after day is walk in circles.

I’ll never forget his response. He said, “Well then, I guess you better learn to enjoy the circles!”

I was both annoyed and convicted.

Annoyed because I really didn’t want to hear that from him in that moment.

Convicted because I knew he was right.

If I had to choose one of the five points of application we’re discussing today that I struggle with the most, it would be this one.

It’s helpful for me to keep in mind that I don’t have to put pressure on myself to manufacture joy. I remember the words of Nehemiah 8:10 which says, “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” If being joyful with something I had to do for myself, it would definitely stress me out and “de-joy” me even more!

5. Resist comparing yourself to others.

Do you have a propensity to use a mental yardstick and gauge your life to other women?

You may do this subconsciously and not even realize you’re doing it! Whether you realize you’re doing it or not, it’s detrimental to your contentment.

It’s also toxic to your own heart and mind AND in your relationships with others.

As a result, you may harbor envy, jealousy, or resentment – and not even know exactly why! It can also prevent you from engaging in relationships with other women in a healthy and fulfilling manner.

pin how to find contentment in Christ

I’m thankful that the Bible provides the secret to being content in any and every situation.

Related post: break free from the stronghold of discontentment

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