When to be Content

Christians’ goal should be, like Paul, to be content in any situation.

I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. (Philippians 4:11)

Often, though, we should NOT be satisfied with where we are. Paul was discontented:

For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. (Romans 7:15)

And, sometimes, you should be working to change your situation, even while you trust God for having you in that situation.

When should you be discontent? When should you be content?

Are you in a situation you can change and should change?

Are you in a situation you can change but shouldn’t change?

Are you in a situation you cannot change?

Can and Should

We are often in situations we can change and should change. Certainly, spiritual growth is in this category. Paul admonished us to run our races with endurance. He talked about striving, buffeting his body,

Frequently we are discontent because we want, for our own satisfaction, something else. Prayerfully consider this, seeking God’s wisdom, confessing as appropriate, and walking in His way.

Other times we need to work, in God’s will, to change our situation.

Suppose your finances are problematic. You may need to reduce your expenditures or find a way to increase your income. It’s possible, like Paul, you need to be content in scarcity, but, often, you can and you should improve your situation.

Suppose you must raise your grades to be eligible for a scholarship. You can and should work on this. You might have to drop out of activities you enjoy in order to devote more time to study. You might need a tutor. You might…

Think through your situation. What should you be working to improve?

Can But Shouldn’t

Sometimes we are unhappy with our lot, and can change it, but shouldn’t.

A classic example is Abraham and Sarah wanting a child. God promised them a child, but they got tired of waiting and got a child outside of God’s will. They were able to do so, but shouldn’t have. They should have waited.

Is that your situation?


But sometimes, we cannot change the situation.

Joseph in Potiphar’s house and in prison are in this category. Joseph didn’t run away, he was a model slave and a model prisoner. The extent of his attempt to get out of prison was to ask the cupbearer to remember him.

I had a serious problem with my vision and had to cope with the possibility of becoming blind. While I prayed and sought medical care, I still had to surrender my eyesight to my loving God. (See When Storms Come: Will YouBe Ready?)


We must ask God for wisdom about our situation, and what He wants us to do. Which category are you in?

If you need to change something, prayerfully work on it.

If you are in a situation you cannot or should not change, work at contentment. (See Ten Steps to Contentment)

Press on!