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What's Up With Contentment?

Updated on October 7, 2012
Contentment is tied to material pursuits, but as the Rolling Stones put it, since "we can't always get what we want" we often "can't get no satisfaction".
Contentment is tied to material pursuits, but as the Rolling Stones put it, since "we can't always get what we want" we often "can't get no satisfaction".

Number One

How does our culture define contentment?

When we surf the web or scan television we soon determine that from our society’s viewpoint contentment means taking care of number one. Self-actualization registers high on the contentment meter.

We deserve a break today is the mentality that is most prevalent; we actually believe it. Not only do we believe we deserve a break, we demand that our wants be given top priority. Life is a smorgasbord for us to indulge our wants; we will abandon responsibility in a heartbeat to achieve personal fulfillment.

Ads beckon us to buy our way to emotional stability. Marketing shamans proclaim that satisfaction is found in the accumulation of toys and treasures; we are told that we need more, require the biggest and best, and by the way, we can have it all in just five easy payments.

We become persuaded that we will be content only when we have a larger house or the newest electronic wonder or a faster car or when such and such happens. Like lemmings running over a cliff we follow blindly along.

The influence of the media trumps common sense. Whether one has ever heard the songs or not, the lyrics of Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones defines the mindset that advertising feasts upon: We can’t “always get want we want”, which means we “can’t get no satisfaction”.

In our consumer-driven culture, contentment is tied to success and wealth. Yet deep within us we recognize the folly because the hollow results of materialism are self-evident. God’s Word tells us very clearly that life does not consist in the abundance of possessions. Written on our hearts is the knowledge that contentment is based on maintaining our lives in balance with God.


Guarded by a Roman soldier, Paul of Tarsus wrote transformational words of instruction that remain living & active today.
Guarded by a Roman soldier, Paul of Tarsus wrote transformational words of instruction that remain living & active today.

Jailhouse Wisdom

Contentment must ripple forth from the well of our heart’s perspective. It ought not to be at the mercy of the shifting tides of circumstance.

In the first-century, Paul of Tarsus demonstrated this truth in words and deeds. He was imprisoned in Rome because of his faith in Christ, yet he did not gripe or complain about his situation.

Rather, from that jailhouse he penned a letter to his friends at Philippi that contain some of the most powerful words ever written: “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me the strength.”

Paul’s learning to be content whatever the circumstances was rooted in his desire “to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.”

True contentment cannot be obtained without coming to terms with our Creator’s requirements. Getting our lives aligned with God is fundamental to our ability to be content.

True contentment is found on avenues of service to others.
True contentment is found on avenues of service to others.

Love & Service

The story is told about a fella who pulled up to a remote country gas station. He walked over to the soda-pop vending machine and stared at the sign in disbelief. “Five dollars for a can of pop? That’s ridiculous!” he grumbled, shaking his head. “Well, it ain’t really five dollars,” the attendant said. “The machine’s actually broke. I put up an out of order sign, but no one paid any attention. People kept putting their money in and I had to keep getting it out for them. So I put up that sign and ain’t had no trouble since.”

That illustrates well the naked reality of our attitude. Rather than paying attention to the sign - God’s Word - which tells us that the world and its values are out of order, we keep putting our money, time and efforts into self-centered pursuits. Except instead of just losing money, we get cut loose from our spiritual moorings.

Our culture provides shiny illusions that rob us of vitality, leaving us wounded and adrift. What the God of Scripture offers in Christ is present peace along with an eternal hope that has depths of meaning beyond our capacity to fathom.

What’s up with contentment is this: Christianity is not the self-absorbed rose-colored theology that is so prevalent in contemporary circles; what the God of Scripture offers in Christ is purpose grounded in pouring our lives out in love and service to others.

Therein lays the secret of contentment.

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    • Ken R. Abell profile imageAUTHOR

      Ken R. Abell 

      7 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      PlanksandNails - You're welcome. Thank you for your thoughtful, accurate comments.

    • PlanksandNails profile image

      PlanksandNails 

      7 years ago

      Thanks Ken,

      Unfortunately, even in the church today, people believe that Christianity is a self help program. All their time, money and resources go to feeding the "golden calf" in their hearts, which ultimately negates the power of the grace of Jesus Christ in their lives.

    • Ken R. Abell profile imageAUTHOR

      Ken R. Abell 

      9 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      Thanks, PinanShodan. Good point about finding what you need. Blessings to you.

    • PinanShodan profile image

      PinanShodan 

      9 years ago

      Hi Ken,

      Great article, I was thinking when you were talking about Mick Jagger, "You don't always get what you want but if you try sometime you might just find you'll get what you need."

      God has never failed to meet my needs. My life will not be consumed with self providing I pray for Gods will on a daily basis for him to show me what I can do for others and especially asking God to allow my light to shine so that others might be interested in knowing about Jesus and how much inward happiness and peace they can have knowing that God is in Control. :-)

    • Ken R. Abell profile imageAUTHOR

      Ken R. Abell 

      9 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      Destined To Win - Thank you for your good words.

    • Destined To Win profile image

      Destined To Win 

      9 years ago

      Wonderful hub. I particularly like the part about "Jailhouse Wisdom." The Apostle Paul knew the secret of contentment in spite of all he went through. Thanks for reminding us of the tremendous importance of contentment in our lives based on modeling our Christ's love in service to others.

    • Ken R. Abell profile imageAUTHOR

      Ken R. Abell 

      9 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      Thank you, Tina. Blessings to you.

    • profile image

      Tina Irene 

      9 years ago

      Oh, Ken! This hub is perfect!

      On: “The influence of the media trumps common sense”, Saint Paul, reconciliation with God and service...right on!

      Thanks for sharing. Love this hub!

    • Ken R. Abell profile imageAUTHOR

      Ken R. Abell 

      9 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      Thanks, Ciela. Be blessed & encouraged.

    • profile image

      Ciela 

      9 years ago

      Hey Ken - Great words & true. Keep up the fine writing. It is encouraging. God's riches blessing on your life and ministry.

    • Ken R. Abell profile imageAUTHOR

      Ken R. Abell 

      9 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      TheSablirab - You're welcome. Sorry you had a cruddy day, but glad this Hub helped make it better. Don't mind at all. You could share the whole article on your Facebook if you like. I am on Facebook if you want to look me up. Blessings to you.

    • profile image

      TheSablirab 

      9 years ago

      Thank you for this Hub! I was going through all of my Hubs, just reading the comments and decided to stop by your HubPage to see what all you have written.

      I had a rough day and reading this made my day so much better! Everything written is VERY true. And if you don't mind, I put this on my Facebook status: "Our culture provides shiny illusions that rob us of vitality, leaving us wounded and adrift." I thought it to be VERY true!

    • Ken R. Abell profile imageAUTHOR

      Ken R. Abell 

      9 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      Godslittlechild - Thanks for stopping by & reading it. Be encouraged to reach for & find more contentment. Blessings to you.

    • Ken R. Abell profile imageAUTHOR

      Ken R. Abell 

      9 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      habee - Thanks. Yeah, we human do have that complaint gene, don't we? Blessings to you.

    • Godslittlechild profile image

      Godslittlechild 

      9 years ago

      I think if I spent more time looking for God in my heart and less time looking at the things of the world, I'd have less to complain about and would definitely find more contentment. Great hub!

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      Wonderful hub. I complain sometimes like all humans do, but I always try to be mindful of all that God has blessed me with.

      BTW, LOVE the new pic!

    • Ken R. Abell profile imageAUTHOR

      Ken R. Abell 

      9 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      Thanks, Gicky. I was with a group of friends Saturday morning & in our sharing/prayer time, we kept quoting chunks of Philippians to each other. And this piece was inspired by our time together.

      Be blessed & encouraged, as you are a blessing & encourager to me & likely many, many others.

    • Gicky Soriano profile image

      Gicky Soriano 

      9 years ago from California

      We live in a culture of complaint that is forever chasing contentment in all the wrong places. As you aptly put it, "Our culture provides shiny illusions that rob us of vitality, leaving us wounded and adrift." Based on the verse that you cited, Paul shares the secret of contentment. It's not acquired via a short-lived realization of self-worth or personal wealth, but through a lasting relationship with Christ. A deeply convicting hub as always. Thanks Ken.

    • Ken R. Abell profile imageAUTHOR

      Ken R. Abell 

      9 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      Thanks, Keith. The other one was ten years ago, so I figured I was probably guilty of false advertising. :>)

    • profile image

      Keith 

      9 years ago

      Amen!!! BTW -- I like the new headshot.

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