John D. Rockefeller was a rich man. The first billionaire on record, it has been calculated that according to today’s dollar, during his lifetime he was likely the richest man in the history of the world. When asked by a reporter “How much is enough” the oil tycoon famously said, “Just one more dollar.”
I don’t know a whole lot about Rockefeller, but I know myself, and I’m sure you know yourself. If you’re an American reading this, you (like me) are a part of a culture that not only celebrates largesse, but actually demands it. Like the grave, we are never satisfied. Bigger, better, faster, sleeker, we’re not well-known for our patience or our lack of an appetite. We buy into the myth that just a little bit more will be enough.
What about contentment?
Contentment is defined as “a state of happiness and satisfaction.” Contentment is a place of rest. Contentment is where striving for just a little bit more ceases. It is not simply looking at what we have and being OK without much more, I think it’s the place where we stop fixating on what we have or do not have. Contentment is ceasing to look at “me and mine,” and instead focusing my attention elsewhere.
Paul says “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” Contentment itself is probably a pretty nice place to live. But if you add godliness to it: being right with God through Jesus, living how we are designed to live, the gain is great.
Financially, we all want to limit losses and increase gains. I think this is a good strategy, we should certainly be good stewards of our resources. But to what end? As I’ve been thinking about contentment today, I think I’ve come to realize that the key to having anything is having contentment first.
You don’t have anything until you have contentment.