Archives For contentment

In several Christian traditions, there is a recent phenomenon of a devotion method known as SOAP. It’s a nice acronym that stands for the following: Scripture, Observation, Application, and Prayer. For those who are unfamiliar with it, it is a devotional method. It is the structure used for people to engage the Bible. Here’s how it works. Someone will select a scripture, and write it down next to the ‘S’. Then, they will make an observation from that scripture. It can be something simple or complex. Based on that observation, you apply it to your life – make an application. Then, say a prayer in a way that incorporates the rest of what has been covered.

There are many great things to say about this devotional method. It’s easy to remember and encourages people to read their bibles. What it is really directed at is making it personal. It is a post-modern take on reading the bible because it emphasizes that everyone can make different observations and applications from the same scripture verse. It isn’t saying that there is one way to read each and every verse.

Yet, at the same time, it is doing the Christian community a disservice. While I agree that ordinary people can have a valuable perspective from reading a part of scripture, it often entails taking things out of context. Not only is the scripture selected as a part of a larger context (that is, a couple verses instead of the whole chapter or book), but it often fails to incorporate historical context. The stuff that is not explicitly said in the passage. When reading the bible, there are just as many important things that are not said as there are things that are written. Another horrible thing it is doing is misapplying the context of the Bible to current day settings. In other words, people are believing that the context in the Bible is similar to their own, when it really isn’t.

What happens, as a result, is a Christian community that is uninformed, under-educated, and most importantly, emphasizing the observations or applications over the scripture itself. In other words, people remember what you should or should not do as opposed to the story that they read in the Bible that communicated that moral wisdom. In case you can’t tell from my previous 390 word rant, this is an injustice to the Christian tradition.

It Happens With Finances As Well

This type of injustice isn’t just something that happens within the Christian communities. It also happens within the financial realm. With the increase in technology and especially social networks, it is much easier to learn of other people’s financial situations. Whether it is someone buying their first home, having a baby, paying off debt, or whatever. It is easy to learn of other people’s financial situations. Much easier than it used to be.

With that increased awareness comes, unfortunately, increased judgment and inappropriate comparisons. For example, a friend of mine recently asked me to help her lease a car. Me, being the person who obsesses over numbers, I tried to figure out if it was the best financial decision available to her. I quickly pointed out that financially, it would make more sense to buy a slightly used car (or fix her current one) than lease a new car. That’s what I would do. Yet, what I failed to consider is that her life situation (or context) is much different than mine. While we are still friends (she understood my intentions were good), I have come to realize that it isn’t a bad decision based on her life. While I don’t need to go into the specifics of her reasoning here, suffice it to say that I learned that I had made large assumptions. I failed to realized that our finances were different. In a manner of speaking, I let me finances become to “soapy.”

People make these false assumptions about similar contexts all the time. When people see friends buying a home and instantly feel jealous, they fail to understand that it’s more complicated than it seems. The friends may have worked second jobs or went to graduate school to get a good-paying job to afford a nice house. Or it may be that they are buying too big of a house and they won’t be able to afford it. Before you feel jealous of their “success,” you need to realize that it’s hard to make comparisons. Period. There is never enough information to make a 1-to-1 comparison, and even if you get all the facts, there are going to be life differences that influence the financial decisions.

Therefore, before you jump to assumptions or develop feelings of jealousy or hatred over other people’s finances, remember that it’s not as easy to compare yourself to them. Everyone’s life is different and we have to learn to accept that fact.

One of the most important financial lessons that I have learned in the past few years is the importance of living below your means. If you are unfamiliar with this term, it simply means to spend less than you earn. In today’s culture and the numerous everyday expenses that come up (like insurance, rent, food, transportation, etc.), it can seem almost impossible to stay within your budget.

I know from personal experience that this can be difficult. My wife and I live in one of the most expensive regions in the United States. We make very modest salaries while both of us also go to graduate school.  Despite the apparent difficulty of living on less money than you earn, it isn’t impossible.

How My Family Lives Below Our Means

As I mentioned, my wife and I live in a region of the U.S. with one of the highest costs of living. If I were to tell you how much we pay for rent (for a 1 bedroom apartment without laundry or a dishwasher), you would probably faint. In fact, when we moved here so that I could pursue my graduate studies at a seminary, I nearly did the same thing. Considering that my wife and I had just graduated from college with little or no professional experience in the workforce, I knew it was going to be difficult to earn enough money to pay all of the bills.

Even though the primary purpose was for me to go to graduate school, I knew that in order to make ends meet, I would have to work part-time to help with the expenses. I ended up getting a part-time job on campus for 30 hours a week. This meant that I would have go to school part-time and extend my degree 1 year. While extending my degree an extra year was not my favorite thing in the world, it meant that I could graduate without any college debt.

We ended up both securing jobs and finding as cheap of an apartment as possible. My wife’s job was horrible (she was a street canvasser who was force to work regardless of whether it was raining, snowing, or over 100 degrees outside), but it ended up having some nice benefits that helped us through this time. Even with both of us working, we were forced to bring lunches to work, eat out only 1x per month, and limit our entertainment options.

What Living Below Your Means Offers You

It takes a lot of work to begin spending less than you earn, but living below your means offers you a lot of benefits. Here are some of the basic things it gives you:

  • Ability to Save: One of the most basic ideas is that if you are spending less than you earn, you will have extra money to save for the future. This is important because we all experience “rainy days” and need to have some sort of emergency fund to protect us from a financial disaster.
  • Financial Freedom: Living below your means allows you some financial freedom. Because you are not strapped for cash and have some cushion, it means you can pursue things that seem really important to you without having to worry about not paying all of your bills. This is especially important because some people feel tied to a corporate job that is doing more harm to the world than good. Spending less money than you earn allows you the personal freedom to resist these oppressive systems without worrying about having food on your table.
  • Ability to Give Freely: One of the most important things, in my opinion, is the ability to give to those in need. If you are living paycheck to paycheck, you aren’t in a great shape to give to those in need. By limiting your spending, this frees you up to contribute towards making this world a better place.

Living below your means is important because it not only takes away the stress of paying your bills, but allows you the freedom to follow your dreams and help others. If you constantly struggle with giving generously, as I have in the past, it might be time to reconsider where you are spending your money.

On the About page, I state that Provident Planning is dedicated to exploring God’s Provident Plan for the personal finances of Christians. But what does that mean? What is God’s Provident Plan? It’s God’s clear Biblical message that through contentment in Christ, diligent work, and good stewardship Christians can prosper so we can give generously in the name of Christ. By following the Provident Plan, Christians can glorify God through their finances.

This message is what I discovered as I have studied personal finance in the Bible. As a Christian and someone who studied financial planning in college, I wanted to know how I could give sound, Biblical advice, but I found so many conflicting opinions that I felt I should find out for myself. After searching for all the Bible verses I could find about personal finance, I began to see God’s wonderful plan for a Christian’s personal finances.

It’s not a plan focused on making Christians rich, or how we can retire early, or the things we can do to make us feel good about ourselves or our money. No – just like every other part of God’s plans for Christians it brings glory to His name and strengthens the witness of Christ in the world. If all Christians followed God’s Provident Plan for their finances, we would radically change the Church and the world. And while it involves how we handle our money – it’s all dependent and focused on the transformation that occurs when we fully give ourselves to Christ and realize the power of His death, resurrection, and the life we have in Him. Let’s take a closer look at each part of God’s Provident Plan.

Contentment in Christ

Once we have decided to follow Jesus, He becomes everything to us. We are in a continual struggle against Satan to keep other things (especially money) from taking the place of Christ. When we find contentment in Christ and Christ alone, the importance of money in our lives diminishes and pales to the value we place on Jesus. We learn the secret to being happy in all situations – whether we’re full or starving, rich or poor, employed or jobless, single or married – nothing in this life matters at all when compared to the glorious gift of Jesus and the fact that no one and no circumstance can take that away from us. We see everything in light of eternity, and we find that nothing on earth is of more value than our faith in Christ. We come to fully believe and trust that God cares for us and will provide everything we need.

Once we have this habit of always finding our contentment in Christ, the Spirit will teach us to place much less importance on material things. We will no longer be focused solely on our own needs and wants – an early retirement, a bigger house, a nicer car, and so on. Instead, we’ll be consumed with a desire to focus on the needs of others – to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, and show God’s love to the world through our faith and our deeds. We’ll spend less and less on ourselves as we give more and more to others.

You can read more about contentment in the Bible here or by downloading a free copy of Contentment Is Wealth.

Diligent Work

Where contentment helps us to spend less on ourselves, understanding God’s call to work diligently helps us earn more money. As the gap between our spending and our income grows, we are left with more to manage wisely, prosper, and then give generously to the needs of others. The attitude and spirit we have as we approach our work can also glorify and honor God’s name. His witness can be seen in how we deal with people in our businesses and our motivation in our work.

You can read more about hard work in the Bible here.

Good Stewardship

While the Bible says little about financial planning as we know it today, God has shown us the value of using wisdom and prudence in managing our affairs. There are verses that speak to planning ahead, saving, avoiding debt, and other practical matters we will encounter in our personal finances. By wisely managing the blessings God provides (that gap between our income and our spending), we can be good stewards and have even more to give in His name.


As we follow God’s teaching on contentment, diligent work, and good stewardship, He will bless and prosper us. When we think about prosperity our focus needs to be on having God’s view of prosperity and its purpose. Prosperity can come in many other ways than just material blessings, and God wants us to use our prosperity to honor Him – not just make ourselves more comfortable. When God prospers us, it’s so we can further glorify Him as we give more and more to those in need.


Giving is the purpose of God’s Provident Plan. All other aspects of His Provident Plan are a means to this end. Through our contentment in Christ, we spend less so we have more to give. Our hard work provides more income so we will have more to give. Through good stewardship we avoid wasting what God has given us so we will have more to give. Our prosperity comes from God not so we can make ourselves richer but so we can give even more. God’s Provident Plan is completely focused on others – on how we can glorify God by laying down our lives and our wants for the needs of others. We live simply so others can simply live.

At the same time, we’ll realize that God’s Provident Plan gives much to us as well. Peace beyond understanding, joy beyond description, and happiness beyond compare are all ours as we trust ourselves to God’s care. When we first begin following God’s Provident Plan, we hardly realize the potential benefits it will have for our own lives because we were still mired in the views of the world. But as we follow Jesus and see that He is trustworthy and faithful, we become aware of the indestructible treasures in heaven that He has taught us to accumulate.

When we fully grasp God’s Provident Plan, we’ll see that giving in the New Covenant has nothing to do with tithing or percentages. It’s not about requirements, rules, obligations, or blessings or curses. Our giving is to be completely motivated by love – joyous and cheerful as we realize that our sacrifice is not loss but gain in Christ. We give freely, generously, and sacrificially not out of compulsion but out of our joy and contentment in Christ. Such giving is a sign of our total commitment to Christ and His teaching, and it’s a very powerful witness to the world.

Following God’s Provident Plan

Following God’s Provident Plan for our personal finances has huge implications for our lives. It goes against every motive the world gives us for why we should manage our finances well. Instead of focusing on what’s in it for us, we look at what’s in it for God and others. But we know that the rewards God has for us far outweigh the deceitful and false promises of worldly riches. If you feel God calling you to follow His Provident Plan for your finances, please browse around the website and sign up for free updates through email or your favorite feed reader!

Greed Contained - If only it were that easy!       I’ve been thinking a lot lately about a Christian’s proper relationship to material wealth – especially in terms of what’s appropriate for us to desire and what’s not. The difficulty comes in trying to draw lines. When do our desires become excessive? How do we know when we’re pursuing the things of this world above the kingdom of God? Where does ambition stop and greed begin?

       Greed – that’s what I want to talk about today. But not so much talk about as discuss with you. What I want to know is how you define greed. What is greed? How do you know when you’re being greedy? How can Christians protect themselves from becoming greedy?

       Let’s look at a few definitions of greed, and then I’ll show you why I think it’s such an important concept to understand. The Bible says quite a bit about those who are greedy, and it’s not good…

Definitions of Greed states that greed is “excessive or rapacious desire, especially for wealth or possessions”. In other words, greed is when you’d extort, rip off, and even steal to get more money. Obviously, that would violate Scripture and Jesus’ command to love our neighbors.

       On the other hand, WordNet, a project at Princeton University, defines greed as an “excessive desire to acquire or possess more (especially more material wealth) than one needs or deserves”. That’s a much more difficult definition to wrestle with, isn’t it? Where do we set our level of “need” or of what we “deserve”? And when does a desire to acquire more than that level become “excessive”?

       I’ve talked before about needs versus wants. We act like many things are needs when they’re actually just wants. Our needs are very few: food and water, clothing, and shelter and warmth depending on your local climate. In the strictest sense, that’s all we truly need.

       And within each of those categories there’s a level beyond which the need becomes a want. We only need food that’s edible and enough to keep us going. We only need clean water. We only need enough shelter and warmth to protect us from the elements and provide a place to rest. And even that one is debatable to some extent.

       I don’t say these things to make myself or you feel greedy if we want anything beyond the most basic of necessities. I say it to point out how difficult it is to get a grasp on what greed really means. Most Americans would not think me greedy if I wanted a modest 1,000 square foot home. But even the smallest of homes in the U.S. are luxurious by most world standards simply because they don’t have a dirt floor!

       In the same way, it’s easy for me to look at Dave Ramsey’s new house and say “That’s too much!”, but I’m sure my friends in Haiti would consider me quite wealthy to be able to rent the small house I’m in now. I think they’d say the same of Dave Ramsey, but it does cause me to step back and examine myself a bit more closely.

       What do you think? Is greed more of the stop-at-nothing-to-get-more definition, or is it closer to the “excessive”-desire-for-more-than-you-need definition? Let me know what you think in the comments at the bottom of the page, but let’s take a look at greed in the Bible.

Greed in the Bible

       Checking the dictionary is all fine and well, but I think it’s more helpful to see what the Bible says about greed if we’re trying to look at this from a Christian perspective. Most of what I read online tends to point at the Christian definition of greed as the stop-at-nothing-to-get-more style. I certainly think that’s included, but I wonder if we’re not held to that higher standard.

       So I’ve found several verses that discuss greed. Coveting is another way the Bible talks about greed, so I’ve included verses that use either word or concept (like “love of money”). Let’s look at them and see if we can draw a conclusion about the Bible’s definition of greed. I’ll list the verses below and include any additional verses needed to get the context. All verses are from the World English Bible (WEB) version, but if you click the link on the reference you can get just about any version you want.

       You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.

Exodus 20:17

       Neither shall you covet your neighbor’s wife; neither shall you desire your neighbor’s house, his field, or his male servant, or his female servant, his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.

Deuteronomy 5:21

       You shall burn the engraved images of their gods with fire. You shall not covet the silver or the gold that is on them, nor take it for yourself, lest you be snared in it; for it is an abomination to Yahweh your God.

Deuteronomy 7:25

       20 Achan answered Joshua, and said, “I have truly sinned against Yahweh, the God of Israel, and this is what I have done. 21 When I saw among the spoil a beautiful Babylonian robe, two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels, then I coveted them and took them. Behold, they are hidden in the ground in the middle of my tent, with the silver under it.”

Joshua 7:20-21

       2 In arrogance, the wicked hunt down the weak. They are caught in the schemes that they devise. 3 For the wicked boasts of his heart’s cravings. He blesses the greedy, and condemns Yahweh.

Psalm 10:2-3

       17 For in vain is the net spread in the sight of any bird: 18 but these lay wait for their own blood. They lurk secretly for their own lives. 19 So are the ways of everyone who is greedy for gain. It takes away the life of its owners.

Proverbs 1:17-19

       He who is greedy for gain troubles his own house, but he who hates bribes will live.

Proverbs 15:27

       There are those who covet greedily all day long; but the righteous give and don’t withhold.

Proverbs 21:26

       One who is greedy stirs up strife; but one who trusts in Yahweh will prosper.

Proverbs 28:25

       Yes, the dogs are greedy, they can never have enough; and these are shepherds who can’t understand: they have all turned to their own way, each one to his gain, from every quarter.

Isaiah 56:11

       But your eyes and your heart are not but for your covetousness, and for shedding innocent blood, and for oppression, and for violence, to do it.

Jeremiah 22:17

       In you have they taken bribes to shed blood; you have taken interest and increase, and you have greedily gained of your neighbors by oppression, and have forgotten me, says the Lord Yahweh.

Ezekiel 22:12

       They covet fields, and seize them; and houses, and take them away: and they oppress a man and his house, even a man and his heritage.

Micah 2:2

       21 For from within, out of the hearts of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, sexual sins, murders, thefts, 22 covetings, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, and foolishness.

Mark 7:21-22

       He said to them, “Beware! Keep yourselves from covetousness, for a man’s life doesn’t consist of the abundance of the things which he possesses.”

Luke 12:15

       33 I coveted no one’s silver, or gold, or clothing. 34 You yourselves know that these hands served my necessities, and those who were with me.

Acts 20:33-34

       For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not give false testimony,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other commandments there are, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Romans 13:9

       9 I wrote to you in my letter to have no company with sexual sinners; 10 yet not at all meaning with the sexual sinners of this world, or with the covetous and extortioners, or with idolaters; for then you would have to leave the world. 11 But as it is, I wrote to you not to associate with anyone who is called a brother who is a sexual sinner, or covetous, or an idolater, or a slanderer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner. Don’t even eat with such a person.

1 Corinthians 5:9-11

       17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 being darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardening of their hearts; 19 who having become callous gave themselves up to lust, to work all uncleanness with greediness.

Ephesians 4:17-19

       3 But sexual immorality, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not even be mentioned among you, as becomes saints; 4 nor filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not appropriate; but rather giving of thanks. 5 Know this for sure, that no sexually immoral person, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and God.

Ephesians 5:3-5

       1 If then you were raised together with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated on the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, our life, is revealed, then you will also be revealed with him in glory. 5 Put to death therefore your members which are on the earth: sexual immorality, uncleanness, depraved passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry; 6 for which things’ sake the wrath of God comes on the children of disobedience.

Colossians 3:1-6

       3 If anyone teaches a different doctrine, and doesn’t consent to sound words, the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness, 4 he is conceited, knowing nothing, but obsessed with arguments, disputes, and word battles, from which come envy, strife, insulting, evil suspicions, 5 constant friction of people of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. Withdraw yourself from such. 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we certainly can’t carry anything out. 8 But having food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 But those who are determined to be rich fall into a temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful lusts, such as drown men in ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some have been led astray from the faith in their greed, and have pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

1 Timothy 6:3-10

       For the overseer must be blameless, as God’s steward; not self-pleasing, not easily angered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for dishonest gain;

Titus 1:7

       Be free from the love of money, content with such things as you have, for he has said, “I will in no way leave you, neither will I in any way forsake you.”

Hebrews 13:5

       1 Where do wars and fightings among you come from? Don’t they come from your pleasures that war in your members? 2 You lust, and don’t have. You kill, covet, and can’t obtain. You fight and make war. You don’t have, because you don’t ask. 3 You ask, and don’t receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it for your pleasures.

James 4:1-3

       In covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words: whose sentence now from of old doesn’t linger, and their destruction will not slumber.

2 Peter 2:3

       There’s no doubt that the majority of those verses cover the stop-at-nothing-to-get-more definition of greed. But several of the verses point toward greed as the “excessive”-desire-for-more-than-you-need idea. In particular, Proverbs 21:26, Luke 12:15, and 1 Timothy 6:3-10 all seem to describe greed as being selfish, not being content, and desiring things for the sake of having more (often, more than your neighbor). That certainly fits in with the broader definition – greed as excessively desiring more than you need.

       Personally, I think the Gospel of Jesus Christ eliminates any semblance of greed as an option for Christians. If we’re to be focused on loving others and helping the poor, how can we spend our time daydreaming about bigger houses, nicer cars, more exotic vacations, and lazy retirements? That certainly wouldn’t fit the instructions of Colossians 3:1-6.

Your Thoughts

       But I want to know what you think. What is greed? What does it mean to be greedy? Is greed limited to the stop-at-nothing-to-get-more definition? Or is it more broad as in the “excessive”-desire-for-more-than-you-need definition? And in that same line of thought, when does a desire for more than you need become excessive and when does it remain acceptable? (That’s a question worthy of it’s own post!)

       Let me know what you think in the comments below, and we’ll work through this issue together.

(photo credit: See-ming Lee)

This post was included in the Carnival of Personal Finance.

Redefining Riches: Giveaway

November 2, 2010 — 6 Comments

Redefining Riches       My friend Rob Kuban at Dollars and Doctrine has recently released a four lesson Sunday school series called Redefining Riches. It’s a great series and I highly recommend it if you’re interested in studying this at your church or small group. It’s an excellent value at only $3.99 as it includes PowerPoint slides, leader’s guides, handouts, and the right to print as many copies as you need for your group.

       You can see an overview of the main areas it covers in these posts on Provident Planning:

The Redefining Riches Giveaway

       If you’d like to try this series out with your group but aren’t sure about buying it, here’s your chance to win a free copy! Rob has agreed to let me give away one copy of the Redefining Riches Sunday school series. You’ll get the whole package if you win.

       To enter, simply leave a comment at the bottom of the post letting me know you’d like to enter. I’ll randomly select a winner and announce it on this post. I’ll email the package to the winner, so be sure to use a valid email address! You’ve got until 7:00 P.M. EDT on November 3, 2010 to enter.

Redefining Riches       My friend Rob Kuban at Dollars and Doctrine has recently released a four lesson Sunday school series called Redefining Riches. I’ve had the chance to review it and I can tell you it’s an excellent introductory course to the core principles of a Biblical approach to finances. If you’re looking for something related to finances to do in your Sunday school class or small group, I highly recommend this as a starting place. (I’m not getting paid to say this, and I don’t earn anything if you buy it. I just believe Rob’s put together a great resource with a heart for helping people understand Biblical truths about God’s desires for our finances.) It’s only $3.99 for all four lessons, which includes PowerPoint slides, leader’s guides, and handouts. You can print as many copies as you need for your group, so it’s a great deal.

       Today’s post is from the content in the lesson on contentment, which I’ve reprinted with Rob’s permission. I’m not devaluing Rob’s work because the value of buying Redefining Riches is in having the lessons already prepared for you along with the PowerPoint slides. You’ll get a good idea of the content by reading the excerpts I’ll share, but you’re still missing out on some additional content Rob includes as well as the leader’s guides and handouts.

Contentment: A Steadfastness of Hope

       Contentment is the currency of God’s economy and God’s people.

       “Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, ‘I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU.'” (Hebrews 13:5)

       The world champions consumption, but God’s word makes much of contentment. In order to live contently, we have to begin setting our mind on things above. (Colossians 3:2) When we allow the scripture to guide our thoughts and habits, we free ourselves from the insatiable appetites of the world and allow instead the fullness of God to be our portion. A content Christian finds his hope in God not in success or accumulation. (See Also: 1 Timothy 6:6-8)

       Contentment is a lifestyle based on biblical convictions.

       “And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness”…Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

       The Bible calls us to allow our convictions, not our circumstances, to govern our sense of contentment. True, biblical contentment is a conviction that Christ’s power, purpose and provision is sufficient for every circumstance. We are to learn how to walk through all kinds of adversity believing in and experiencing Christ’s sufficiency. We have to choose to rest on God’s good promises despite what may be going on in our lives.

       Contentment is a commitment to choose Christ over consumption.

       “Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:11-13)

       A Christian is called to learn to be content. This is a lifelong process, but well worth the time as we learn to lean on Christ for our strength. We are to choose to walk by faith not by sight, choose self-control over self-indulgence, choose gratitude over grumbling and ultimately, choose to set our hope on Christ. (See Also: Luke 3:14, Mark 8:35-37)

Bible with Cross Shadow by knowhimonline on Flickr       Today’s Personal Finance Bible Scripture comes from 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. I find it to be a good reminder of what we should do as Christians even when we’re experiencing hard times. If you are going through a difficult period right now, financially, spiritually, or otherwise, I recommend you write out this verse and put it somewhere you can see it every day.

       16 Rejoice always. 17 Pray without ceasing. 18 In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus toward you.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (WEB)

We can easily break this passage up into four main points:

       1. We should always be joyful – even in the very worst of times. And we have a very good reason to be joyful. God gave His only Son to cover our sins so we can join Him in Heaven. That fact should overshadow any adversity in our life if we really take it to heart.

       2. We should always be praying. This is how we communicate with God. Continual prayer means our minds are always focused on God. Whatever we focus our minds on will have a profound impact on our actions and attitude, so keeping God foremost in our minds is the best thing we can do in any situation.

       3. We should always be thankful – and not just in the good times. God has blessed us so much more than we realize. We get caught up in looking for material blessings, but the greatest blessing we have is Jesus. He has taken away our sins and brings us into communion with God. Even if we’re naked and starving, we still have the blessing of Jesus.

       I think most Christians in the U.S. can agree we’re also very blessed materially. Nearly all of us have a home, clothes, food, and much more. There are billions of people worldwide who would be ecstatic to have a home the size of the average American living room, much less all the amenities and abundance of food we find in our homes. So even in what seem like “hard” times, remember that you are very blessed and be thankful.

       4. This is God’s will for us. This is what God wants us to do all of our lives. He wants us to be joyful and happy, to be very close to Him and always in prayer, and to be thankful at all times. Our lives would be so much more fulfilling if we pursued these three things with relentless passion.