By Mike Traylor M.S., LMFT
Contentment—A Lost Art
What comes to your mind when you think of the word contentment? In the past when I thought of contentment my mind would move toward actions of someone being passive, complacent, appearing to have lack of desire, passion, and drive. The state of contentment is not a place or mindset that I believed would be beneficial toward my growth or well-being in life. Well, I was wrong and my understanding of contentment was way off base.
Webster’s Dictionary defines contentment as “the quality or state of being contented.” To be content is to be satisfied. Honestly, most of the people I interact with on a daily basis are discontented. Another word is they are dissatisfied. Dissatisfaction seems to drive our economy in that we need the newest phone, TV, or house. Many people are looking for a more satisfying job, career, or even relationship. While I firmly believe Christ-followers should have goals in life and work to be our best, how can we enter a state of contentment, and what benefits would we receive?
Paul, who wrote a majority of the New Testament, said in one of his letters to his companion and co-worker Timothy, “but Godliness with contentment is great gain” (1Timothy 6:6). This gives more reason to discover what purpose and benefit come with contentment. Solomon wrote, “The fear of the Lord leads to life, then one rests content, untouched by trouble” Proverbs 19:23. So, from both of these writers, we find that contentment can benefit Christ-followers with great gain and rest, along with being untouched by trouble. So, how do we get there?
1. Paul stated, ”Godliness with contentment is great gain.” This implies we should pursue Godliness and contentment as much as I would pursue material gain or profit. The word gain in the Bible here is defined as blessings for the here and now. It also means the best way to attain blessings and material gain is through Godliness and contentment. This is contrary to our society in general.
2. Acknowledge that contentment brings peace to our lives. We can learn to be at peace regardless of our circumstances or trouble we are facing. Solomon above said, “We would be untouched by trouble,” not that we would avoid trouble. Jesus told us, ”In this world, you will have trouble,” John 16:33, so living in a state of contentment helps us to experience peace in the midst of trouble or difficult circumstances. My hope is that I would experience more peace through learning to live content. This will allow our greatest strength to be realized fully which is, “Christ in You.”
3. Following the first two steps above will allow vision for God’s dreams and purposes for our lives to be realized and fulfilled. Learning to live in a state of contentment allows protection for my heart and life from living in discontentment—which can so easily move us from the path God desires for us. Living in discontentment allows our hearts to search for outward things to bring peace rather than an inward sufficiency of knowing and experiencing Christ as our peace. Great gain can be obtained through the art of contentment.
My prayer for 2018 is for you to find contentment that brings you peace, hope, and happiness.
Mike Traylor M.S., LMFT is a Marriage and Family Therapist at Summit Counseling and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 601-949-1949.