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Guaranteed Contentment Killers

by Joe Carroll

I’ve seen it.  You probably have too.  The person who seems to have so much going for them still whines and complains, while a person who is going through horrible hardship is content. How can this be? 

I’ve experienced three guaranteed ways that kill contentment.


The Biblical word for contentment in the New Testament comes from the Greek word “autarkeia” (ow-tar’-ki-ah).  It conveys the idea of “self-sufficiency”.  At first, the idea of being “self-sufficient” seemed very anti-biblical to me…as I was thinking it was conveyed being “proud” or “independent”.  Yet, I learned that it really carries the meaning of being “self-sufficient in Christ”. 

So, when Paul states that he has learned the secret of being content in any and every situation (Philippians 4:12), he is declaring that the living and indwelling person of Christ within him creates an inner state of satisfaction regardless of circumstances.

Conversely, I’ve observed that contentment is lost…

  • When I complain.  Complaining wipes out my union with Christ.  Complaining allows a circumstance to dictate my inner sense of well-being.
  • When I criticize.  Criticizing snuffs out the inner life.  It disconnects me from Christ.  Criticizing blinds Christ’s inner vision within me that sees what he sees rather than being consumed with what doesn’t meet my approval.
  • When trying to control outcomes.  Trying to control outcomes destroys my prayer dependency on Christ in me.  It moves Christ off the throne of my heart by taking matters into my own hands.

David (in the Old Testament) had many human reasons to allow his contentment to be destroyed.  He was royally betrayed.  His wife was unjustly taken from him.  And, after being promised that he would be Israel’s next king, he was enviously pursued by the most powerful person in his country, King Saul, who wanted to kill him.

Did he complain?  Did he criticize?  When he had the chance to control the outcome by killing Saul, did he take it?  No.  His contentment was in God.  He wrote,You are my prize, my pleasure, and my portion. You hold my destiny and its timing in your hands.” Psalm 16:5 TPT.