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FIRST-PERSON: Are you looking for great gain?

GAINESVILLE, Ga. (BP)–Contentment, contrary to popular opinion, doesn’t mean being satisfied with what you have. Contentment is the result of knowing God’s plan for your life, having the conviction to live it and believing that God’s peace is greater than the world’s problems.

Now, I’m not sure what you thought of when you read the question above: “Are you looking for great gain?” But I know what God says about it –- “Godliness with contentment is a great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6).

Often, we get trapped into a discontented life by adopting worldly goals. These goals always boil down to: More. Bigger. Best. Scripture defines them as indulgence, greed and pride. In our society it isn’t normal to “step down.” Once a certain level of income (or spending) has been attained, it is considered a failure to step down. But is the concept of conservation and moderation really a loser’s attitude? Not according to biblical standards.

God’s Plan for Contentment

Although many Scriptures teach about the dangers of material riches, God’s Word doesn’t teach that poverty is the alternative. God wants us to understand that money is a tool that we are to use in accomplishing His plan through us.

If Christians are to find true contentment, some basic lifestyle guidelines must be established:

— Establish a reasonable standard of living.

Since there is no universal biblical plan that is suitable for everyone, this must be a standard established among husband, wife and God. Simply because you may have an abundance, don’t think that’s a clear sign of God’s blessings. Satan can easily duplicate any worldly riches.

However, God’s riches are without sorrow and for bringing others to salvation.

— Establish a habit of giving.

Above the tithe, God wants Christians to be involved with the needs of others. Every Christian family should be directly involved with the needs of another family.

There are many Christian organizations that act as a funnel for such funds. So, even if you claim that you don’t have the time to be personally involved, there are alternative ways you can help others.

If God has provided a surplus for you, don’t assume that you then have the right to spend it selfishly. “At the present time your surplus is [available] for their need, so that their abundance may also become [available] for your need, that there may be equality.* As it has been written: ‘The person who gathered much did not have too much, and the person who gathered little did not have too little’” (2 Corinthians 8:14-15).

— Establish priorities.

When my good friend Larry Burkett was alive, he had an axiom that may clearly speak to your life. Larry would say, “Many Christians are discontented, not because they aren’t doing well — they’re discontented because others are doing better than they are.” Is that what it’s about in your life?

“Your life should be free from the love of money. Be satisfied with what you have, for He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you or forsake you’” (Hebrews 13:5). Too often we let what seem to be the urgent things take priority over the truly important things.

— Develop a gratitude attitude.

True thankfulness is a state of mind and is not dependent on such things as good health and other important benefits.

But, much of what we call “thankfulness” is based on whether we have accumulated certain assets. Until we can truly thank God for what we have — whether little or much — and be willing to accept that as God’s provision for our lives, contentment never will be possible.

— Reject a fearful spirit.

Christians can get trapped into hoarding because they fear the “What ifs?” of retirement, disability, unemployment or economic collapse. Obviously, God wants us to consider these things and even plan for them, within reason. But, when a fearful spirit dictates one’s life to the point that giving to God’s work is hindered, foolish risks are assumed and worry becomes the norm rather than the exception.

A Christian must consciously reject this attitude of fear. “I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

Contentment, then, is knowing God’s plan for your life. So, if you’re discontented, that’s an indication that you need to get serious about what God wants for you and seek His will for your life. “More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of Him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them filth, so that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8).

And, once you’ve discovered His will, then you must trust God’s promises. “The peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).

Look to God for “great gain” — “Godliness with contentment is a great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6).
Howard Dayton is CEO of Crown Financial Ministries. Dayton and the late Larry Burkett joined forces in 2000 when Crown Ministries led by Dayton merged with Christian Financial Concepts led by Burkett. The new organization became Crown Financial Ministries, on the Web at www.crown.org. *The bracketed text has been added for clarity.

    About the Author

  • Howard Dayton