Contentment Is Not Complacency

April 15, 2010 — 12 Comments

       Are you put off by “contentment”? Does it sound like apathy to you? A lack of ambition?

       Americans as a whole do not value the idea of contentment. It sounds too much like complacency – like you’ve given up and are just accepting things the way they are. We value the mindset of ambition and a strong desire for success. And too often we think contentment means no ambition at all.

       As Christians, we need to understand that the two are not necessarily opposed. While contentment is definitely not going to lead to a strong desire for material or worldly success, it does not preclude us from spiritual ambition for God (not a desire to magnify ourselves). Neither is contentment an excuse to be lazy.

       Rather, contentment is the state of being satisfied in the sufficiency of Christ. Our happiness is not dictated by circumstances or our possessions. We find joy in knowing that Christ meets all our needs. It’s important that we have a good understanding of contentment before we dismiss it as something that’s undesirable in our culture.

Contentment Is Fulfillment

       Contentment in Christ means we have found fulfillment in Him. Our purpose and meaning in life are defined by God’s purpose for us. We are happy to do His work and to seek His will for our lives. We don’t measure our success by the world’s standards. God’s standards are not the world’s standards. And that’s why the world sees contentment as weakness, as diffidence, as resignation. The world is darkened in its understanding and cannot see the light of God’s truth.

Contentment Is Sufficiency

       Contentment in Christ is being satisfied in Him. We focus on the value of the eternal life He gives us. We understand its worth is far above riches and luxury. And because we realize we now have that immeasurable gift of eternal life, we are not consumed by greed and a lust for more and better “stuff”. We recognize that Christ fulfills all of our needs and we are happy in Him.

Contentment Is Appreciation

       Contentment is an active appreciation of what we have and a determination to make the most of it. It gets to the root of stewardship – understanding who truly owns all of what we have and desiring to manage it well. It rejects the notion that “I won’t be happy until I get more.” It is fueled by thankfulness and resourcefulness. Contentment is a mark of wisdom.

Contentment Is a Choice

       It is clear that contentment is a choice. It doesn’t just happen. We must choose to present ourselves as a living sacrifice to God and follow His will. We must choose to focus on the value of eternal life and the riches we have in Christ. We must choose to appreciate God’s blessings in our lives and manage them well for His glory.

       Every single day we must make a choice to be content in Christ. We have an unbridled ambition to glorify Him in all we do. Our strong desire to be more like Him and to serve God does not lead to laziness or complacency. Rather, it energizes us work hard for the advancement of the Kingdom – in our personal lives and in the world.

       How would you describe contentment? What attracts you to contentment in Christ? What drives you away (or puts barriers in your path)? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.



Corey is currently pursuing a Master of Arts degree in religion. While he enjoys learning and writing about Christianity, another one of his new passions is writing about personal finances in order to help others make wise decisions with their money.

12 responses to Contentment Is Not Complacency

  1. Contentment is knowing that God will supply all our needs according to His riches. He has promised to take care of us! Why should we stress out about material things when the Lord has already told us not to worry about them? He clothes us in finer garments than the lilies, he loves us more than the sparrows, and He will never leave or forsake us. That gives me incredible peace.
    Also, when I do start to feel discontented, I just look around at those less fortunate than me. My town has a prominent homeless population, and it’s very sad. When I contribute to helping those in dire straits, my life suddently seems comparably good.

  2. Thank you for your comment! Your description of contentment is very good at capturing the peace and thankfulness that comes from contentment in Christ.

  3. This is so counter-cultural! We live in a culture in which constant motion (not always forward) is equivalent to “living”. If you’re not moving, you’re not living.

    But if we’re in constant motion, it’s that much harder to see God in our everyday lives. It’s usually in the stillness that only contentment can bring that we come close to God and to understanding his will. Now that we’re essentially a secular culture, constant motion may have evolved in to the preferred state of being.

    As believers, it’s so important that we resist the cultural bias, and do what we’re called to do, to “seek that still, small voice”. That’s getting harder to do all the time with the increase in clutter an busy-ness of all sorts.
    .-= Kevin@OutOfYourRut´s last blog ..OutOfYourRut Friday Personal Finance Round Up #3 =-.

  4. You’re right, Kevin. The busyness of life can drown out God’s voice. We must take time to step out of the rush and seek Him. But our culture teaches us that we don’t have time to slow down because we must always be working to raise our standard of living.

    Contentment in Christ helps us break free from that false view and find the time to slow down and listen quietly to God. It’s counter-cultural, but so is most (maybe all) of what Christ taught us.

  5. So true. Even as believers, we’re often so concerned with making Christianity fit into the buffet table of our lives that we miss the truly radical nature of it, the kind that demands that we come out and be different.

    As well intentioned as it may seem on the surface, we often become preoccupied with some sort of good neighbor policy that enables us to blend into society. True Christianity is TRANSforming, not CONforming.
    .-= Kevin@OutOfYourRut´s last blog ..OutOfYourRut Friday Personal Finance Round Up #3 =-.

  6. Precisely! Jesus didn’t teach us to live in a way that blends in with society. He calls us to live radically different – to turn the world’s ideas upside down. Too often, we don’t seem to get that. I often don’t myself even though I think about it quite frequently.

  7. It is so seductive to live with the current culture for many people. People do not want to be seen as different. However, as Christians we are called to be different. I do struggle at times but when I sit down and read God’s loving gift to us, the Bible, I just feel the contentment that we can only find in Him. God bless Paul and thanks for the great post, as usual.

  8. Thank you for your comment, Donna! Satan focuses a lot of time and energy on pulling our hearts away from God. We can get so blinded by the desires of the world that we can’t see the wonderful Gift God has given us and the contentment He brings. We have to actively fight against the lies of Satan and rely on God’s power to change our hearts.

  9. Interesting that you bring Satan into the discussion Paul. I think we miss something when we ignore the “Satan factor”. It kind of unifies and even personifies evil, and I think we need to do that, otherwise we can sink into the trap of thinking there really is no good or evil and it’s all relative.

    Even many Christians doubt the existence of Satan and Hell. If you believe in neither, there’s really nothing to resist.

    (Once again I’m taking the subject at hand off a cliff!)
    .-= Kevin@OutOfYourRut´s last blog ..How to Buy Health Insurance Without Paying Too Much =-.

  10. Not a problem, Kevin! It’s a good point. I see what you mean about there being nothing to resist if we don’t believe in Satan. I think the Bible is quite clear that he is against us and puts every effort into trying to cause us to stumble and fall away from God.

    If Satan is not the source of temptation and evil, then it only exists within our minds. It would be ourselves that we must resist. While we do have a fallen nature, we were created to be creatures of good – to glorify God. We are weak in our flesh, but the temptations we face do not originate within us – they are the attacks of Satan designed to cause us to sin.

  11. Paul, what a great comment on Satan by you and Kevin. This is so on the mark. My flesh can be so weak at times especially as I struggle with health issues but I must look to the Lord as my only source of contentment.

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