To be content means to be patiently satisfied in life. The opposite of contentment is dissatisfaction, complaints, lack of appreciation, unhappiness and troublemaking. Contentment is a New Testament command for everyone in the body of Christ: men and women, children and adults. The apostle Paul defined contentment perfectly when he said, "for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content." Philippians 4:11
As all who have studied the Acts of the Apostles have learned, Paul endured many hard times (shipwreck, imprisonment, being a stranger away from home, peril among his own brethren) as well as times of success, peace and prosperity. He had learned to be content, as described in this passage:
"I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." Philippians 4:12-13.
Contentment has several meanings, and the one that I am addressing here is defined in the 1828 dictionary as follows:
CONTENT, adjective [Latin , to be held; to hold.] Literally, held, contained within limits; hence, quiet; not disturbed; having a mind at peace; easy; satisfied, so as not to repine, object, or oppose.
Example: "Having food and raiment, let us be therewith content."1 Timothy 6:8.
Lack of contentment creates unhappiness, and results in jealousy, hatred, false accusations, complaining, resentment, and anxiety, which have no part in the life of a truly Christian lady. Such things destroy love, goodness and gentleness that Christian women need to acquire.
What contentment is not: complacency, laziness, lack of Biblical self-improvement, refusal to learn important things that will benefit her family and her personal life as a Christian. Contentment does not mean a person can be satisfied with things that are mediocre. A lady will always encourage her family to become excellent in character, skills and talents. She will not be content to allow rudeness or meanness in herself or her home. She always looks for ways to glorify God. If her appearance or manners need polishing, or her homemaking needs more excellence, she will desire improvement.
Now that the Biblical and dictionary references to contentment have been laid out, let us see the circumstances in which a Christian lady may be content:
-Content at home with her family. One lady I know is living between homes, temporarily in a tent while her family finds their next residence. She has decided to be content, so every day she takes time with her personal appearance and clothing, and prepares her tent as though it were a real home. She sets her table and places some wildflowers in a jar as a centerpiece. I have known of other ladies who have had to live in circumstances that were not ideal, who cheerfully made comfortable dwellings in unfortunate circumstances. A woman has a natural homing instinct, and if she nurtures it, she will be able to make life better wherever she is. She could blame her husband and resent her children in these conditions but instead she gives them stability and reassurance with the example of her personal contentment. She may not be thrilled or overjoyed with life as it is at the moment, but she has learned the advantages of contentment. She will overcome any feelings of restlessness by looking for things that need to be done at home or by studying. ( 1 Thessalonians 4:11, 2 Timothy 2:15)
-Content with the weather. I do not suppose there is any perfect climate on earth. Even those in tropical climes are discontent and have problems due to the weather. To be content with disappointing weather, ignore what is going on outside and create a good spiritual and physical climate inside your house. Your own demeanor and contentment will greatly aid in reaction to the weather, cold or hot. It is a matter of mind-over-matter and focusing on other things. I have known ladies who used inclement weather to seek new knowledge, paint pictures, write books, plan landscaping, and improve their skills at home.
-Content with illness.It is easy to be anxious when you are confined to bed or limited in your physical abilities, but a lady can be content to do a little bit here and there in the home to fulfill her duty to be a keeper at home. Even ladies who are aging can find creative ways to make a house a home. One person I am acquainted with amazes me with the love and concern she has for her home, while suffering from a chronic illness. When sitting in a chair, she reaches to the side-tables, wipes the tops with a cloth she keeps handy, and arranges the items on it in a pleasing way. She believes her health improves as she reduces clutter and disorder in her home. She reaches out to others through card-making and sending mail that includes her church bulletin. She reads a great deal and paints little pictures. She does not allow herself to dwell too much on her infirmities. She is content.
- Content with troubles. As jealousies, accusations and criticisms will be directed toward her from time to time throughout her life, the Christian lady learns not to panic or react in anger or retaliation. Her trust in the care and protection of Christ brings her personal contentment. She knows that the best way to win others to her beliefs is to live them. She realizes that some people behave in ignorance and need to know the way of The Lord more perfectly. She knows she cannot solve the troubles of the world, but commits it all to prayer. She quietly allows some matters to die down.
-Content in the body of Christ. There will always be less mature people in the church who will convince women that they should not be content with their Biblical responsibilities to be faithful, to study, to extend hospitality, to be content to be homemakers. They convince women that they are being given an unfair deal. Women begin to want to take over the leadership duties that God gave to the men. If they would improve life at home and be content, they would have no desire to usurp other people's roles in the church.
A Christian lady who wants to "do more" in the church can always take the examples of women like Dorcas in Acts 9:39, who sewed for the poor, or Lydia in Acts 16:15 who extended hospitality to a minister. Women who lack contentment with their role at home are likely be discontent at church. They often have no understanding of the Biblical nature of the church and are weak in basic doctrinal issues. This weakness makes them spiritually empty, so they seek social change and upheaval in the church, trying to void their discontent. They may spread this to others, causing trouble at home and in the church, in business outside the home and other places. Discontent brings on many unnecessary troubles.
Hopefully you can see how the attitude of personal malcontent can damage relationships at home and in the church. Lack of contentment has lost many a man an important job and jeapardized the family's financial stability. Lack of contentment in a woman can often be a neglect of her personal responsibilities at home, resulting in fewer home comforts.
To overcome discontent, find ways to get around obstacles and unhappiness. Figure out how to do things. Substitute an accomplishment for a discouragement and observe how your contentment grows.
Lack of contentment discredits the word of God. Ladies at home are to be keepers at home "that the word of God be not blasphemed."
To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. - Titus 2:5
Knowing that contentment is desired by our great King, The Lord Jesus Christ, should inspire the desire and determination to learn how it may be acquired and to practice it. It takes self control to be content, and that means replacing nagging feelings of discontent with positive feelings of gratitude. It means applying character qualities such as creativity and diligence to your personality.
There is more to being content than gaining a feeling of peace or learning to be patient with the common circumstances in life. Contentment gives personal dignity to the Christian lady and increases her credibility. She brings honor to her husband as she appreciates his role in life as a provider and protector. Discontent discredits the husband and the home. A contented lady has less anxiety and is less likely to create problems for others at home and in the church. Her bearing and demeanor will bring glory to God and be a good testimony of her spiritual nature as she seeks to absorb the Word of God contained in the scriptures, in her life.
The contentment verses in the Bible show us without a doubt how greatly God loves his children, for he wants them to be content. They enemy would have us filled with anxiety and selfish ambition, while God's word reassures us of The Father's care for us.
Click here to print this. If you have a post on your blog about contentment, please leave it in the comments or email me and I will be glad to add your link on this article.
Lori Alexander has a contentment post called "Learning Contentment at Home."