Thursday, August 7, 2008

Cultivating Contentment- Part 1

“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. ”
~ 1 Timothy 6:6-8


I've been giving a lot of thought lately to the worthy goal of cultivating contentment in our little ones. Are you seeing contentment in the hearts of your children? Are you experiencing contentment yourself? What is contentment?


We define contentment as “feeling or showing satisfaction with one's possessions, status or situation.” - Merriam-Webster

As Tom and “noodled” through this idea (to borrow a phrase from my sister, Liz) a thought has begun to emerge and challenge my thinking in multiple areas. First, we began to discuss if it is ever wrong to be discontented. We ran through a few examples of situations in which we felt being discontented is good.

Here's one- training children. Being discontented with the behavior of our children is good because we will train them to obey and that is God's will. So, being discontented is good, right? Well, maybe not.

Training our children to obey is good, but shouldn't our motive really be simply that we desire to live for Christ and obey Him in all things? Should our motive really be that the disobedience is a bother? Hmmm...

Here's another- changing jobs. Is it wrong to change jobs? I mean, if people weren't discontent with something at their job they'd never change jobs! Is it wrong to be dissatisfied in our jobs- I mean we're thankful that the Lord has provided of course, but if we're dissatisfied with our amount of pay or our commute we will change jobs and that will be better for us. So this type of discontent is right... right?

Well, we are called to provide for our families. If our amount of pay doesn't accommodate this command, then we need to change jobs. Or if we realize that by having this job far away is keeping us from fulfilling Deuteronomy 6:4 we should change jobs. Then our motive shifts from 'what's best for me' to 'how can I better obey God?' Hmmm...

Okay, so what about cleaning your car? Am I getting crazy here? Let's say you are discontented that is is dirty. That is good- by the way, this example makes me look very contented right now ; ) - because you are discontented, you will clean your car. Then you won't be embarrassed, people will want to drive with you places and they might even think better of you for being so very clean. That's good, right?

Well maybe not for those motives. But what if our goal in cleaning our car was that we know God doesn't want us to be sluggards and we are desiring to be a witness for Him, then that is 1 Corinthians 10:31 -“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

Do you see my meaning?

It is beginning to dawn on me extent of the impact of being saturated in practical atheism for years on end in the school system.

How often I see areas of life as neutral when they are really “ whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

As we studied and talked through this idea, we realized that when God talks about contentment in Scripture He most often really seems to be referring to being satisfied with the “stuff” He has provided:

Luke 3:14- “Then some soldiers asked him, "And what should we do?" He replied, "Don't extort money and don't accuse people falsely--be content with your pay."

Philippians 4:12- “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.”

1 Timothy 6:8- “But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.”

What we have and what we don't have are not accidents. And God wants us to be content. To be satisfied with what we have because we are satisfied in Him (see below Hebrews 13:5).


Sometimes being discontent means we are covetous.

“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." Hebrews 13:5

We recently heard a sermon in which covetousness was discussed in great detail. One of our elders explained that to be covetous literally means to be a “more haver.” That has really stuck with me.

Being covetous- or discontent- really boils down to always wanting MORE.

Part 2 tomorrow: Ways to Guide our Children in Contentment.

May God richly bless you as you lead little hearts home.


The photo- Sarah with eggs from our chickens. She loves collecting and washing the eggs. She almost doesn't want us to eat them! : )


  1. THank you for this series....I look forward to reading more. And it's very timely for us... I've started to notice in my 4 yr old and 2.5 yr old the "give me's" when we are shopping. I think it's fine that they share what they like, but wrong to be demanding of things that they already have plenty of.

    What a blessing to "learn the secret of being content" at an early age:)

  2. A timely article. I've recently been considering the idea of no neutral areas and have been trying to wrap my brain around what that means in various areas of life. Thanks for the perspective.

  3. Good words sis!

    Now if only you could teach about cultivating eggs, I'd be in business. Our chicken that we bought from the same place as you at the same time, that we plucked from the same box together have not layed one single egg!

    But it's ok. I will be content. :-)

  4. Hi 3 for me!! I get it. It's so easy to see a "more haver" attitude in our children- as well as in ourselves. Hope you enjoy the rest of the series.

    Hi Erin! Would love to hear more of your thoughts on this issue. : )

    Hi Lizzie! Sounds like a case for the detectives! ; )

  5. Thank you for this post, Rebecca. Such a good reminder. You truly are a gifted writer. And yes, I'm still hanging around reading your old posts! Stuart is in the final chapters of a very good book tonight, and quite 'unavailable' to me- so I am keeping myself busy on my own enjoyable things! And I so enjoy reading your blog. :0)
    I was just thinking how well your Sarah and my Saraya would get on (did you know the name Saraya is a derivative of Sarah??!). She also loves to collect the eggs from our chickens. She just loves the chickens to pieces!! She cuddles and pets them and checks for eggs about 3 times a day. :) Don't you love this age?

  6. Awesome Rebecca! I've read part 1 &2, and .... the original article I first came on to see... ;)

    This is as good for ME, as for our children! ;) I'm really having to especially work on this content thing, right now... and still learning to say no to pity parties of my own! ;)

    This coveting thing- in our home, we call it "want-itis". I don't rarely allow my kids, nor myself to browse catalogs, because it's so easy to get a case of the ol' "wantitis".

    THANKS!! ;) GOOD JOB!!