vs. Covetousness
Realizing that God has provided everything I need for my present happiness

Key Verse

“And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.”
I Timothy 6:8

The operational definition of contentment is “realizing that God has provided everything I need for my present happiness.” When a person is thankful and happy, whether he has little or much, then he is content. Lasting contentment is found only when God is the source of someone’s life, joy, peace, identity, and purpose. Contentment comes from the security of knowing that one’s greatest need (forgiveness) has already been provided by Jesus, Who never leaves him. Assured that he belongs to Jesus, the believer has everything he needs. This truth helps him to recognize that temporary things, such as possessions, power, or popularity, will never satisfy as only Christ can.

Contentment is choosing to focus on the glass being half full and happily enjoying every drop.
Covetousness is seeing what is not in your glass and wanting more.

The opposite of contentment is covetousness. A covetous person has an intense desire for something he does not have. Rather than being thankful for what he has, he focuses on what he does not have. He sets his heart on something that he believes to be necessary for his happiness. He doesn’t believe that only God can bring the satisfaction he seeks. If a person desires an object more than God, this replacement object is an idol, since he should be finding satisfaction in God alone. (See Colossians 3:5.) A person’s craving may lead him to scheme in order to get what he wants, even if his actions hurt others. If you find yourself longing for new clothes, the latest device, or being popular, what do you do with that desire? Do you think about it constantly, or do you entrust it to the Lord?

Evaluation Questions

  • In what specific ways do I enjoy God’s presence?
  • Am I gratefully using the possessions I have, or do I seek to own more?
  • How do I respond when my possessions are damaged or stolen?
  • Do I focus on what I do have or on what I don’t have?
  • Do I truly believe that God has given me all that I need?
  • What is my response to advertisements that foster discontentment?
  • How can I discern if my desires align with God’s desires?
  • Am I set on attaining something that I think will make me happier?
  • Do I know how to overcome the temptation to complain or envy?

More About Contentment

“It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness.”
C. H. Spurgeon
Transformation results as we behold the Lord and yield to the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (II Corinthians 3:18). As we see God’s character through testimonies in Scripture, we grow in our understanding and obedience to His Word. Here are ten aspects of Contentment with supporting verses found in God’s Word.

God enables me to:


Check my desires.

“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.” Titus 2:11–12

Refrain from envy and jealousy.

“For jealousy is the rage of a man: therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance.” Proverbs 6:34

Enjoy what I have.

“When thou hast eaten and art full, then thou shalt bless the Lord thy God for the good land which he hath given thee.” Deuteronomy 8:10

Treasure the small things.

“And the Lord said unto him, What is that in thine hand? And he [Moses] said, A rod.” Exodus 4:2 “There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?” John 6:9

Be thankful for what I have.

“Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 5:20

Stop complaining about what I do not have.

“Yea, they despised the pleasant land, they believed not his word: But murmured in their tents, and hearkened not unto the voice of the Lord. Therefore he lifted up his hand against them, to overthrow them in the wilderness.” Psalm 106:24–26

Value relationships more than possessions.

“Better is little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble therewith. Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith.” Proverbs 15:16–17

Take care of my belongings.

“Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds.” Proverbs 27:23

Give to others.

“Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again.” Luke 6:30 “He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed; for he giveth of his bread to the poor.” Proverbs 22:9

Befriend those who are less fortunate.

“But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.” Luke 14:13–14 “Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me.” Mark 9:37

Contentment in Scripture

The Workers Who Expected More

“So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first. And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny.”
Matthew 20:8–9
A rich, young ruler approached Jesus to ask how he might gain eternal life. After speaking with Jesus, the man realized he loved his possessions more than Jesus and sadly departed. Jesus then turned to His disciples and explained that people with many possessions often love things more than God. “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God,” Jesus warned. Astonished, the disciples asked, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus answered, “With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.” Peter pressed, “Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?” Jesus replied that everyone who gave up their homes, families, or lands for His sake would receive a hundredfold more in this life, with persecutions, and would inherit eternal life. “But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first,” Jesus added. What parable would Jesus tell to illustrate this statement? In His parable, who would trust the master to reward justly? Would all the laborers be content and grateful for their wages? What would happen when some compared their wages with the payment others received? Was the master just and good?

Revealed in Nature

Deer Mouse

The deer mouse displays contentment in its ability to make its home almost anywhere, making itself comfortable with whatever is available. Its habitat ranges from wide grasslands through brushy terrain to dense woodlands.

For Kids

Biblical Character Illustrated Curriculum

The Biblical Character Illustrated Curriculum uses examples from the lives of men and women in the Bible whose walk with God resulted in good character or whose lack of faith produced poor character. Through this study, children are taught that the secret to contentment is to have a close relationship with God and appreciate all that He gives. Children will be directed to see that the most prized possession is Christ Himself.

View the Contentment booklet sample:

Get the complete Contentment booklet with all four lessons & activities:

Free Resources for Contentment

Enjoy these selections from the Biblical Character Illustrated Curriculum that are fun and memorable!

Bible Story Coloring Page
Verse & Definition Word Search
Related Hymn Sheet Music
“Next to faith, this is the highest art: to be content in the calling in which God has placed you.”
Martin Luther