Content but not Complacent|
Do you have enough? That question is incomplete and open to interpretation. Before you can answer it, you need to know the answer to another question: Enough of what? You probably think that you have enough of some things and not enough of others. In some ways, you are content, and in others you are not.
The Bible speaks well of contentment in matters of physical possessions and comfort. Consider the outstanding example of the apostle Paul, whose contentment in any situation allowed him to focus on his work for the Lord rather than being beset by concerns about his own wellbeing. Notice Philippians 4:11-13:
Paul viewed contentment as a necessary part of a godly person's sense of prosperity. In 1Timothy 6:6-8, he wrote,
In another place, he wrote that "godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come" (1Tim. 4:8). Putting this altogether, we understand that contentment with the basic necessities of life enables a Christian to gain the greatest benefit from a life of godliness.
Likewise, the Bible warns us against being greedy and selfishly ambitious. Notice that after Paul advised us to be content in 1Timothy 6:6-8, he gave this warning in verses 9-10:
Few things can ruin a soul faster than the love of money, the love of pleasure, and greed. Christians who are overcome by such things corrupt even their prayers, for they ask God for blessings so that they may spend it on their pleasures (Jas. 4:3). They also harm others, for their selfish ambition leads to "disorder and every evil thing" (Jas. 3:16). Such persons doom themselves to destruction, for the Scripture says that God will give "to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation" (Rom. 2:8).
On the other hand, we must not misapply the Bible's message of contentment to areas where it was not intended. We can never have enough of certain spiritual traits, such as love for God, brotherly love, wisdom, knowledge, service, charity, and fellowship. Ambition in such areas is not selfish, but rather it is noble and godly. Such ambition should be encouraged in all, and every Christian should aspire to the highest level of achievement in these things. For example, Paul says, "It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do" (1Tim. 3:1). In this case, ambition is very good. More generally, Paul says to all Christians in 1Thessalonians 4:10:
Indeed, we should all "have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him" (2Cor. 5:9). No one could aspire to anything better than that.
Therefore, let us be content but not complacent. Specifically, let us be satisfied with our material blessings but not with our own accomplishments. Our attitude should be the same as that of Paul, who said in Philippians 3:12-14:
Until we reach "the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus," let us never be satisfied.
Stacey E. Durham
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