Summary: The unfolding will and blessing of God doesn’t happen instantaneously; it takes place through a process of time and therefore, we must learn to wait on the Lord with contentment.
A. This is the fourth installment of our ongoing series entitled “Graceful Waiting.” We’ve been talking about how the unfolding will and blessing of God doesn’t happen instantaneously; it takes place through a process of time and therefore, we must learn to wait on the Lord. In this installment, we will study the fourth key on how to wait scripturally, which is contentment.
B. Look at Philippians 4:11; Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. Paul experienced great hardship yet he said in whatever state he was in, he learned to be content! People who are able to wait are those that have learned to be content in their present condition. At first glance, this seems to contradict our teaching on faith and prosperity.
C. Let’s look at other verses about contentment that seem to contradict prosperity.
1. First Timothy 6:8 says, And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. Again, this seems to contradict the message of prosperity and our covenant of increase.
2. Let’s look at Hebrew 13:5: Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have. Again, this sounds as though I’m supposed to be content with only what I have. How do I resolve this concept with the doctrine of increase and prosperity?
D. At first glance, these verses seem to say contentment is required, but increase is not available. Yet it can’t possibly mean that because Paul exhorted us to “press toward the mark for the prize” (Philippians 3:14). If you’re supposed to be content with the meal before you and the clothes on your back, then why tell us to “press toward the mark for the prize?” Obviously, there is something more to this than meets the eye.
E. The confusion is cleared up when we understand the definition of certain words. The vernacular of our day makes it sound as though the word content means to “accept the status quo.” W.E. Vines Expository Dictionary, however, says the Greek word translated as content means “without covetousness.” The Amplified Bible translates the word content as being “inward sufficiency.” So the word “content” has nothing to do with accepting the status quo.
F. We see that confirmed in Hebrews 13:5, Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. The word conversation here means “manner of life.” So it could read like this: “Let your manner of life be without covetousness; and be content.” In other words, to be content means to be without covetousness and to be inwardly sufficient.
G. The phrase “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee” means that regardless of your present condition, you can be content or inwardly sufficient knowing that God never leaves you or forsakes you.
H. There is another aspect of the definition of “without covetousness.” If you’re coveting something, that’s saying you can’t be happy unless you have what you desire. God isn’t going to give you something that you have decided you can’t be happy without. He is your source of happiness and contentment.
I. First Timothy 6:6 says, But godliness with contentment is great gain. The Amplified Bible says: “a source of immense profit.” That is increase. He’s not saying we can’t increase beyond merely food and raiment because here we see these two principles work together—living a godly lifestyle and not being covetous. Contentment together with a godly lifestyle is a source of immense profit and great gain.
J. Yet most people still fail to understand contentment. They wonder how they can be content when their marriage is failing or when their business isn’t growing. But contentment, remember, doesn’t mean “accept the status quo.” It means to be inwardly sufficient in the knowledge that God never leaves you and never forsakes you. If you continue to wait patiently on Him, you’ll have a good ending.
K. Secondly, it means you can’t hang your hopes for happiness on having what you want. Contentment without covetousness means you’re grounded in your relationship with the Lord, and therefore, the joy and the peace that only He can bring are the things that constrain your experience of life.
L. You’re not dependent on having that house or that car or that person to be happy. Your happiness isn’t found in them. Therefore, you’re without covetousness. A godly lifestyle with that kind of attitude is a source of immense profit or great gain, and you will see your waiting period for the promise is shortened.
M. When you understand that contentment does not mean “accept the status quo,” seemingly contradictory verses become clear. God wants you to press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling, but you do it without covetousness.