3 Myths About Contentment

“Everything in our society is geared to make you unhappy with your current circumstances: your job, your wardrobe, your car, your house, your wife, the place you live, whatever it might be. Everything in the advertising world is designed to breed discontent. To make you unhappy with what you have.” (John Maxwell)

3 Myths About Contentment

Myth #1 – Contentment Is Earned

There is lie that we believe, that we can earn our contentment.

  • “If I can just get that promotion at work, then I’ll be content.”
  • “If I can just get that new car, then I’ll be content.”
  • “If I can just get enough money in the bank, then I’ll be content.”
  • “If I could just get married, then I’ll be content.”
  • “If I could be single, then I’ll be content.”

The Apostle Paul says contentment is not earned it’s learned “…I have learned to be content…” (Philippians 4:10)

When I was about to graduate High School many many years ago they took us on two tours. One was literally next door to the University and the other was down the road and to the left at the Trade School. If you were good at “the books” you went to University and if you were good with “your hands” you went to trade school. The type of learning Paul is talking about is not discussing philosophical treatises on contentment like in Uni but the hands-on learning to be content of Trade School.

Learning:

  • To learn by use or practice
  • To acquire the habit of
  • To become accustomed to

The school of hard knocks taught Paul that you learn, not earn, contentment. A great lesson for our society today for sure.

Myth #2 – Contentment = Lack of Strife

I’ll take peace over strife any day 🙂 but we do live with this idea that true contentment means the weight of the world’s problems no longer affect us. Of course, less strife in life is better for us emotionally and physically but can we really attain a life of no strife?

The Apostle Paul understood that contentment does not mean a lack of strife, “…I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” (Philippians 4:11)

He then goes on to describe the situation he found himself in, “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.” (Philippians 4:11-12) 

I look at verses like that and think, “He’s a better man than I will ever be. How did he get to that place in his life?” (See Myth #1)

Myth #3 – True Contentment Begins With Me

God, you have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you. – Augustine

I don’t want to underestimate the fact that there is a part of contentment that does depend on our actions. Changing our attitude and perspective can help with finding contentment to a certain degree. However, what I am talking about is the contentment from the spiritual restlessness we all face. Many religions have you working for your spiritual contentment. It’s the work that you do, it’s hoping that in the end you have done more good than bad and you are rewarded with true contentment. Christianity is different, we believe that spiritual contentment is something that we in ourselves cannot attain ( bad news) but it is something we can receive (good news). 

Bill Hybels explains the difference between working for your faith and just receiving it.

Paul says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13) Many times this verse is taken out of context and applied to making you a Super Christian but its actual content is contentment. 

There are many contentment killers:

  • Envy ( James 3:16)
  • Love of Money (Hebrews 13:5)
  • Greed (1 Corinthians 10:10)
  • Unforgiveness (Ephesians 4:32)
  • _______________________ (Fill in your own issue)

True contentment is not as elusive as you think.  Following the advice that Paul gave to a group of Jesus followers over 2000 years ago can make a huge difference in your life. 

What’s your first step towards having more contentment in your life?

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Written by Peter Walters

Peter is Connections & Pastor Care Pastor at Brooklin Village Church, just outside Toronto, Canada. He has been married to his wonderful wife Sarah for 25 years and they have two children.