Jesus and the apostles all suffered, all lacked wealth, all lived with strong opposition to their lifestyle and message. They lived in what both Jesus and Paul called evil times. All this and yet they were exceedingly content. Why? The apostles apprehended what Jesus knew: that they were heirs to a Kingdom through Christ’s life and atoning death on a cross.
Contentment with God’s Provision
The apostles’ lives were presented as a burning wick to light the fire of the church. They knew that our life on earth is exceedingly temporary, and could not be concentrated on obtaining things for their own pleasure. They, instead, obtained souls and made disciples through their gospel for eternity glory.
Paul put it bluntly, “But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.” (1 Ti 6:6–8)
How could he say that? He knew that God was not a spendthrift. God was not a God to hold back from him. His adoptive Father did not love him less than other Christians: those believers who had wealth, health, or an easier life. He trusted in the loving provision of the Father despite only having little to his name and abundant suffering. Likely, more suffering than we ourselves could bear. He deeply understood, what we are endeavoring to grasp – to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
Sufficient Whether Poor or Rich
Sufficiency is scripture is focused on a believer’s spiritual life instead of financial wealth. We are called to use our provisions (whether great or small) from the Lord to help those in physical need in order to bless them and increase our own spiritual harvest. In this way the wealthy and the poor are both blessed. For as Christ says, ‘It is more blessed to give than receive to receive.’ (acts 20:35). Which are we focused on doing?
Paul wrote, “The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written,
“He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor;
his righteousness endures forever.”
He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God.” (2 Co 9:6–12)
Contentment when Brought Low
Paul wrote about his sin of covetousness in the letter to the Romans. He talked about his desire for another’s provision. He wrote, “But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness.” (Ro 7:8). Paul, as a well-educated Pharisee, did not know how to be content. Instead, in his misguided zeal, he persecuted the church until the appointed time of his conversion on the road to Damascus. Sometime after this, God taught him to how suffer for His sake and learn not to covet. What a blessing! A gift! Paul learned the secret of how to be content in need. Not a first world need, not a personal want, but stuck in one place as a Roman prisoner.
He wrote, “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Php 4:12–13)
May God bless you today with his peace which is a contentment resting on the assurance of a loving Father. Be convinced if you be in Christ and Christ in you, that the Kingdom awaits us in eternal glory.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.