How Much Do You Need?

The Practice of Contentment

Bel-Air Home

Are you tired of your current house?  Are you ready to upgrade?  A newly built home has come on the market in Bel-Air.  It is truly impressive.  It is 38,000 square feet and includes a $30 million dollar exotic car collection, two wine cellars (who wants to walk to the other side of the house to get a bottle of wine?) a four-lane bowling alley and its own helicopter (for when driving your exotic car gets boring).  All this can be yours for a mere $250 million.

Now, some of you are already thinking, “Who needs a house that big?”  “That is a waste.”  I agree with you, but what is needful and what is extravagant is often in the eye of the beholder.  Someone may think that your house, or your car, or your whatever, is unnecessary and therefore extravagant.  Knowing what is appropriate, especially when your budget allows for many things, is a matter of wisdom.  It is easy to point out extravagantness in other people’s lives, but hard in our own.

I was talking to a friend the other day about her goals for 2017.  She told me that one of her goals was to be more mindful of her possessions and to develop a heart of contentment.  Contentment is a hard character trait to develop in the Silicon Valley, where I live.  We always get the newest and brightest first.  We also have income levels that allow us to purchase much more than most people.  Where does contentment fit in to this lifestyle.

Paul said that “godliness with contentment is great gain.” And “if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content” (1 Timothy 6:6, 8).  Contentment is a grace from God that allows us to be in a state of satisfaction with what the Lord has given us.  It comes from believing that what I possess has all come from God and is just what God wants for me.  It is the opposite of the attitude that I must work harder because I want to earn more money so I can buy more.

On the other hand, contentment is not opposed to hard work because God has called us to do so.  Nor is contentment opposed to receiving raises and even significant increases in income.  Nor is it even opposed to buying new things.  But contentment is evident when all of your income is not spent on more, even though you can afford it.  Contentment finds satisfaction not in the life you can afford, but in the life you need. Contentment is that general attitude of satisfaction in what God has given.  For the Christian, it is particularly found in the Lord – not in what the Lord gives – but in the Lord himself.

Contentment is hard.  How can we develop an attitude of contentment?  Here are some ideas:

  1. Be thankful for the bounty the Lord has already given you.
  2. Recognize that your real source of contentment is found in your relationship with the Lord. He alone can fill the void in your heart that we often try to fill by material things.
  3. Be mindful of what you purchase. What is your motivation?
  4. Wait a little longer for a major purchase – avoid spur of the moment purchases.

In a song based on Psalm 84 we sing at my church, there is a line that says, “the things of earth have left my soul unsatisfied.”  They always will.  But true contentment finds its root in satisfaction in the Lord.

What do you do to stay content?


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One thought on “How Much Do You Need?

  1. What a great reminder of something so simple!

    “In a song based on Psalm 84 we sing at my church, there is a line that says, “the things of earth have left my soul unsatisfied.”

    When I look towards something for satisfaction, it disappoints. When I enjoy the same thing with thankfulness towards Christ, I am satisfied.

    Thank you for the post!