My friend commented, “I need to learn to be more content.” She was thinking about Paul’s declaration in Philippians 4:12. “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.” An admirable desire.
I responded, “Yes – content but not complacent.” Earlier in my quiet time, I had read Revelation 3:15-16. “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.” John’s words had been my warning against complacency. Both my friend and I had quoted scripture. We needed a balance between contentment and complacency.
How do we learn to be content?
Jesus says in Matthew 6:25, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?” Contentment is not worrying. Contentment is trusting God.
Paul assures us in Philippians 4:19, “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.” We must differentiate between our wants and our needs. God promises to meet our needs. However, this does not mean we will always get all we want. By trusting Christ, our attitudes and appetites change from wanting everything to accepting His provision and power. This is contentment.
Hebrews 13:5 says, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’” A footnote in the Life Application gives the following advice. “Strive to live with less rather than desiring more; give away out of your abundance rather than accumulating more; relish what you have rather than resent what you are missing. See God’s love expressed in what He has provided and remember that money and possessions will all pass away.” Wonderful guidelines for contentment!
I Timothy 6:6-7 says, “But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either.”
Contentment is good. But what about the risk of allowing contentment to become complacency?
In Hosea 4:6 God says, “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.” Lack of knowledge refers to a lack of intimate fellowship with the Lord. This sounds like complacency. It will be better for us to follow Isaiah 32:9. “You women who are so complacent, rise up and listen to Me; you daughters who feel secure, hear what I have to say!”
Jesus says in Matthew 7:26, “But everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.” Hearing but not fulfilling God’s Word can be another demonstration of complacency.
In a devotional “Disturb Us, Lord!” Daniel Kolenda writes, “Complacency is one of the most dangerous enemies of the believer because it is so easy to fall into and, like a vivid dream, it is very difficult to detect in our own lives before we are rudely awakened. God is so good and faithful to us in His mercy. But it is easy to take His faithfulness for granted in the good times and confuse presumption for faith.”
Kolenda also refers to someone who once said, “Complacency is a blight that saps energy, dulls attitudes, and causes a drain on the brain. The first symptom is satisfaction with things as they are.”
The writer of Hebrews encourages believers to not be satisfied with the elementary truths of God’s Word. He exhorts all to be diligent regarding our growth in the Lord. Hebrews 6:12 NLT “Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent. Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God’s promises because of their faith and endurance.” If we remain content spiritually, we can become complacent about our relationship with God.
Did my friend and I come to any conclusions about contentment and complacency? We decided we wanted to be content in the natural realm while avoiding complacency in the supernatural realm. We will strive to be content – not to seek MORE, MORE, MORE materialistic stuff. We will also endeavor to not be complacent – to desire MORE, MORE, MORE spiritual insight.