How are you doing in the area of contentment? How full is your level of satisfaction with your spouse, family, career, or church? How content are you in your walk with the Lord? As much as you may be pressing on toward goals and aspiring to grow, how much is contentment a part of your present experience?

Paul tells us that contentment is something he had to learn, “for I learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am” (Phil. 4:11). He doesn’t outline the process he went through to learn contentment, but this at least shows us that contentment doesn’t just happen naturally, even for the apostle Paul. It is something that must be learned. So, how do we learn contentment? What are some ways we can cultivate contentment in our lives?

We pulled this list together by using the Olive Tree Bible Topic Threads. This resource is really easy to use. Once you’ve purchased and downloaded the resource, you can read its contents in the Resource Guide in the Commentary section. It will show you the topics and Scripture references for the verses open in the Main Window. For this list, we opened our Bible to Philippians 4:11 and viewed the entries under the topic of contentment. A brief survey of the verses under the topic of contentment provides us with six ways to cultivate contentment.

How can we cultivate contentment?

1. Don’t worry about tomorrow.

“So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble on its own.”

Matthew 6:34

How can we be content in the present if we’re so focused on the future? We can’t! We don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow or ten years from now. So, in order to cultivate contentment, we must live in the present and leave the future in God’s hands.

2. Don’t grumble or complain about your circumstances.

“Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer.”

1 Corinthians 10:10

This verse is referring to the Israelites who grumbled while they were in the wilderness. The source of discontentment is a grumbling, complaining heart. It is a heart of ingratitude toward God. In order to cultivate contentment, we must be grateful with where God has put us, what he has provided for us, and what he has spared us from.

3. Trust in God’s provision.

“And God is able to make every grace about to you, so that in everything at every time having every sufficiency, you may have an abundance for every good deed.”

2 Corinthians 9:8

We tend to think that getting is the key to cultivating contentment. However, Paul quickly dismisses that notion. He provides the encouragement in the verse above in light of calling the Corinthians to radical generosity. He calls them to give. This shows us that giving is not counterproductive to cultivating contentment. Rather, it is a means by which we can cultivate contentment by showing that we trust in God to meet all of our needs.

4. Think about what you need, not what you want.

“But godliness actually is a means of great gain, when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. And if we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.”

1 Timothy 6:6–8

Paul corrects the practices of some false teachers who were attempting to use a false form of godliness to get rich. He corrects that false view by telling Timothy that godliness is a gain in and of itself. It’s not a means to get something you want. We entered this world with nothing, and we’ll leave with nothing so all that we truly need are the bare necessities. If we’re using godliness to get rich, then we’ll never experience contentment.

5. Focus on what you have, not what you don’t have.

“Make sure that your way of life is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for he Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.’”

Hebrews 13:5

The point the author of Hebrews is making in this verse is that God’s commitment and faithfulness to the believer should be enough. God will never leave you and because of his constant presence, you will never be alone. He is the one who gives life; not the stuff that money can buy.

6. Rejoice in what God has given others.

“For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil practice.”

James 3:16

Jealousy and selfish ambition are diseases that destroy contentment. We know that it’s hard to be content when we want what others have. However, we have to remember that God gives different gifts to his children. Instead of focusing on how someone has received something we want, we should forget about ourselves and rejoice in their enjoyment of God’s good gifts.

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With over 2,700 topics and 31,000 cross-references, the Olive Tree Bible Topic Threads is a great resource for surveying what the Bible says about thousands of topics. If you’re interested in what the Bible has to say about a particular topic or if you want to see how the verses you’re reading address different topics, then pick up the Olive Tree Bible Topic Threads today!

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