Howard Hughes was once asked, "How much does it take to make a man happy?" His response, "Just a little more."
Contentment is something that all people struggle with. Especially since there is more than just one person in existence. If there were no one to compare ourselves to then we would never know if what he had was as good, better or worse than someone else.
True biblical contentment is much more than just some human invention or some man made idea of trying to accept what you have and be happy. Biblical contentment is a complete and revolutionary proposal when compared to anything man has to offer. For true biblical contentment is based on the true sufficiency that comes from the one true God of the universe who created all things and provided His Son Jesus Christ to bring salvation to mankind and provide us with a new identity.
In 1 Timothy we get some insight into what this type of contentment looks like. In chapter 6 it states:
But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. For we brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. If we have food and covering with these we shall be content. But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. (1 Timothy 6:6-10 NASB)
The Bible also has much to say about this subject found in other areas as well. For instance:
For He satisfied the thirsty soul, and the hungry soul He has filled with what is good. (Psalm 107:9 NASB)
Godliness can be described or defined as a proper reverence for God in word and deed. It is ultimately what true religion should look like, which includes a true heart for God and His Word, and living out the life He has placed before us.
According to our primary text in 1 Timothy 6, when accompanied by contentment such godliness is a means of great gain. Why? Because true gain in this life is to be found in spiritual growth not financial or material growth.
Contentment - "self-sufficiency;" a person who is unflappable, unmoved by outside circumstances, and properly reacts to their environment. (MacArthur, 1995)
Are you unflappable?
Are you unmoved by outside circumstances?
Do you properly react to your environment?
Especially when it is in a state of change?
True biblical contentment is derived and is to be found in God and God alone.
Such confidence we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. (2 Cor. 3:4-6 NASB)
Our adequacy is from God. We must also remember that our spiritual life itself finds its source in God. With God's grace and mercy no flesh would be saved, and all of us would remain in our sins and in our spiritual death. So any contentment, any sufficiency, any joy that we have in this life all finds its origin and sustaining power in the same source; the one true God of the Bible, and the one true God of the universe, and His Son, Jesus Christ.
A godly person is motivated by the love of God. In fact, as MacArthur points out, "the supreme goal of a believer's life must be to love and glorify God, not to amass material possessions." (MacArthur, 1995)
Christians too often are consumed by and spend all their time worrying over things that are created instead of finding their true joy and contentment in the Creator of all things.
We take things that by themselves are not bad; like Goals, Wants, and Desires, and we take them and attempt to force them down upon our reality. Our reality is real life, it is what we face everyday, it is the truth about what our life looks like. Even that is not what is supposed to produce joy in our lives, but Christ is the source of our joy! Christ is that which produces joy and contentment in our lives no matter what our individual circumstances are.
Also, it is important to note that if the believer is not seeking after God, and is not fully satisfied and content with Christ and Christ alone then they will be incapable of experiencing true joy accompanied with biblical contentment even if they have the best of circumstances based on human standards. True biblical contentment is being fully and completely satisfied with Christ and the Holy Spirit who indwells us and is sanctifying us, and is working to make us more Christ-like.
If we remain so focused on our version of what our life should look like, or what circumstances we think we should have or deserve. If we take goals and make them the determiner of our joy, if we take what we want and decide we will not be happy until we have those things. If we take that which we have decided will make us happy and content and force that down upon our reality to where we will only be happy and content when our reality is transformed into one after our own making; then we will never find contentment and true joy, for that is found only in Christ.
MacArthur, John. The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: 1 Timothy. Chicago, Illinois. Moody Publishers. 1995.