Carpenter workingLast week, we talked about contentment as a godly response to life situations. But maybe you were wondering, “Does being content mean that I shouldn’t try to improve my situation?” No! Contentment is not an excuse for laziness or inactivity, nor does it fly in the face of creativity and industriousness.

In fact, in the same letter to Timothy in which Paul urges contentment (1 Timothy 6:6–8), he also wrote, “Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” (1 Timothy 5:8) Paul also wrote to the Thessalonians that if someone wasn’t willing to work, they shouldn’t eat!

The Scriptures are full of exhortations to work hard and be industrious. Proverbs 10:4–5 says, “Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth. He who gathers crops in summer is a prudent son, but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son.” So being content is not to be confused with laziness or idleness.

Perhaps we can say that contentment is the godly response to any situation when we have done everything, we can improve that situation with the skills and resources God has given us. The desire to improve our situation is a noble pursuit and does not run contrary to contentment.

I think many of us men struggle with being content, because we are hard-charging, motivated guys who are constantly pursuing a better existence for our families and ourselves. But we must be careful to submit our drives and ambitions to the Lord as well. Otherwise, a preoccupation with such ambitions can easily degenerate into discontent.

Discontent basically says God is not providing what we need. It also cultivates an inordinate desire for wealth, things, or experiences beyond our means. Discontent or malcontent breeds greed, envy, jealousy, and if we’re not careful, even lying, cheating, and stealing. Discontent focuses on self.

Discontent is a corrupt form of ambition and industry with a love for money at its core. And we know that “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” (1 Timothy 6:10)

This is truly a solemn warning for us. Never think you can dabble in that kind of corrupt ambition without being burned. All of us are susceptible to its lure.

Scripture Reading: Luke 12:13–21

Personal Application

  • What are your current ambitions? Where do these ambitions come from? What has motivated them?
  • Check yourself for discontent, laziness, or idleness. What do you sense the Lord asking you to do?

Jim Grassi image and signature  Jim Grassi, D. Min.

We cherish any verse in Scripture that reminds us to keep focused and intentional about evangelism and discipleship. “But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.” 2 Timothy 4:5