The Fallacy of Biblical Contentment

Posted: February 23, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , ,

Paul tells us that he learned to content in whatever state he was in.

What the Bible says…

The Bible has much to say about contentment both in the new and old testaments.  Yet the word is always used in the context of stuff; money, food, clothing, housing and things that are physical.

Scriptures examples:

In the Gospel of Luke we find John the Baptist engaging in a conversation with some soldiers and he tells them to be content with their pay (Luke 3.14).   Apparently their lack of contentment had caused them to abuse their positions and abuse others to use extortion as a means of padding their pockets. 

In 1 Timothy 6.6-8 Paul instructs ministers to be content as long as they have food and covering.  He obviously is speaking of contentment in the physical realm.

Philippians 4 is where most people get their view of “Biblical contentment”.  The apostle Paul writes the following in verses 11-14: “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.  Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction.” 

Paul and Luke make it very clear that they are speaking in regards to physical states.  Not the spiritual. 

How many people interpret that…

Unfortunately for most people they impose the Bible’s response to physical needs onto their own spiritual shortcomings.  Lack of effectiveness becomes, I need to be content with the 10 people that God sent to my church.  I need to be content that I have led 3 people to the Lord in my life.

Why that is wrong…

Spiritual effectiveness is largely dependent upon whether or not Christians are willing to get to work or whether they are sitting around bemoaning the fact that the world is not a better a place.  As long as their people in your community dying and going to hell, you should not be content.  Jesus wept over Jerusalem, when was the last time you wept over yours?  As long as sin is acceptable in your church, you should not be content.    

As I have studied the western church I have come to the conclusion that it is suffering due to contentment.  Most churches are as effective as they want to be.  No, they will never admit this but their actions declare it.  Holy huddles do not reach the world.  Sunday mornings is not where Christians should do most of their ministry for the week.  Perhaps it is the fact that those of us who have been called to be spiritual leaders have failed.  We ask people to burn out in church programs that never go beyond our church walls while people outside our walls are hurting and dying.

So let me ask you a question that I often pose to myself: are you content with the state of your church?  If you answered no, do your actions declare yes?

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