Updated: Aug 9, 2022
More. More. More. No matter our income or our position in life, don’t we always feel the need for more? How often do we tell ourselves, “If I just had ______, I would be happy.”? Our pastor at our home church gave us a heart check sermon recently using the 10th commandment: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor” (Exodus 20:17). This final commandment serves as an opportunity for us to examine our thoughts and to help us align them more with God’s desires than our own.
One way to attack this mammoth step-on-your-toes Scripture is to think about how we can live a content life. Once we feel content with where we are at and where we are going, we won’t feel the constant desire for what others have. Sure, it’s easy to say, but how do we actually make this happen? Let’s look at 10 practical ways to practice contentment.
1. Start a gratitude list.
It’s a whole lot harder to feel jealous of others when we’re spending so much time feeling blessed ourselves. Start an ongoing list of what you’re thankful for either on paper or your phone. Add to it each morning when you wake up. What are you grateful for in your spouse? Your kids? Your home? Your church? Your work? Pick a day each week to read your list and praise God for all the amazing things He has blessed you with.
2. Get off social media.
We have everyone else’s fairy tale stories at our fingertips and it’s making us sick. If you’re having a hard time with how perfect everyone else’s lives look compared to yours, stop looking at them. Perhaps you need to block certain posts or get offline altogether. Not sure if this is an actual struggle for you? Do a heart check. Next time, you are scrolling, say the thoughts you are having out loud as you are looking at others’ lives and listen to what you are saying. You can take it a step farther and write your thoughts down.
3. Save up for things you want.
If you know there’s something you want, start saving up for it. Write down the cost and figure out what has to be true to save up for it. You want a new-to-you car? Write down the cost and figure out how much you can put toward it each month. Calculate the number of months it will take to get there. Still too far away? What can you give up to make it happen? Your daily Starbucks run? Your Saturdays so you can pull in extra hours? When you set a goal, it is a lot easier to focus on that goal instead of everyone else.
4. Remember everything belongs to God and we are just managers.
I know a God-loving man who writes “God’s” on everything he buys. While this may be a little overkill for the average person, he’s got the right perspective. God gave him that item to manage. He is going to take it and use it the best way he can to glorify God. I wouldn’t suggest writing “God’s” on your kids or your spouses’ foreheads, but the same thought process can be applied. And when God sees good management, He may give us more to manage. Or not. The “not” can be the hard pill to swallow. That’s when we start to try to tell God our ideas. And boy, do we have some ideas!
5. Give to others.
Find ways to give your time, talents and money on a consistent basis. You will feel a renewed sense of purpose and will have a chance to focus on others instead of your own predicament. One great way to give your time, talents, and money is to go on a mission trip. The main goal of a mission trip is to share the Gospel. But a huge side effect is often feeling super grateful for what you have. Another unexpected side effect is figuring out there are a lot of happy people out there who basically have nothing. They will show you that the key to being happy is not “stuff” or a big house.
6. Get out of the “You deserve” mentality.
It’s not your fault you think this way. Commercials throw this concept at us every day. You deserve this new car. You deserve this vacation. You deserve to be happy. Frankly, we deserve nothing more than death, hell and destruction for our sinful natures, but thankfully we have a God who loves us and sent His Son to take the punishment for our sins so we could forever be with Him. Let’s sit in that thought instead of what society tells us.
7. Tell yourself “no” every now and then.
Saying “no” to yourself sometimes can be really good for your brain. From when you are a child, your body gets used to you wanting something and automatically gratifying that want. We have to learn to retrain those instant responses. So next time you start thinking, Man, I really want one of those cookies I see everyone else eating. Come back with a quick, NO! It will be good for your heart and your waistline!
8. Memorize Scripture.
When you start to feel the “I want what they have” or “I’m never going to have that” mentalities creeping in, here’s a list of Scripture to have on hand to armor up:
“‘Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?’”
- Matthew 6:25-26
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 all this through him who gives me strength.
- Philippians 4:12-13
But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.
- 1 Timothy 6:6-7
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
- Hebrews 13:5
9. Take it to God.
Keep open communication with your Heavenly Father. Tell Him what you’re having a tough time with. He wants to hear it. And we can even ask for what we’re wanting. He may say yes, and He may say no. He might even say to wait. He could ask you why. And if you don’t like His answer or His questions and you begin to ask yourself why, let’s remember a simple yet so hard phrase: He is God and we are not.
10. Remember this is not our home.
Our Father’s got mansions waiting for us. He’s got streets of gold for us to walk down. Heaven will be filled with every tongue and nation. There will be overwhelming peace and joy as we praise our Heavenly Father for all eternity. When it comes down to it, what do we have that’s really going to matter besides that?
Can I make a lot of money and still be content?
Yes, you can have wealth and still be content. You can have goals and still be content. Money is just a tool, and striving to become better at something is not a sin. It’s all about the heart. Why do you want that money, and why are you trying to accomplish those goals? How are you going to manage your time and money in a way that pleases God? Keep asking yourself these questions, and He will guide you along the way.
It’s not a sin to want nice things in this life. It’s okay to have stuff. But when we get caught up in wanting what everyone else has and thinking those things are going to make our lives better, we’ve got a problem. We’ve taken our focus off the One who has placed us where we are for such a time as this. Let’s take the time to redirect our focus and to be grateful for what God has given us and where He’s going to take us. Only then can we find true contentment and peace.
Looking for songs to encourage you in your journey toward contentment?
Check out these songs from Red Letter Society!
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