Unquestionable Character: A 21-day Study in Stewardship.

The Contented Steward

The apostle Paul's contentment is legendary. This often-quoted text reflects the unquestionable trust Paul had that God was able to provide whatever he needed in any circumstance, and that it was always enough. Puritan minister and theologian Thomas Watson (1620-1686) defines this kind of contentment.

1. Contentment is a divine thing; it becomes ours, not by acquisition, but infusion; it is a slip taken off from the tree of life, and planted by the Spirit of God in the soul; it is a fruit that grows not in the garden of philosophy, but is of heavenly birth; it is therefore very observable that contentment is joined with godliness! 2. Contentment is an intrinsical thing; it lies within a man; not in the bark, but the root. Contentment hath both its fountain and stream in the soul. The beam has not its light from the air; the beams of comfort which a contented man has do not arise from foreign comforts, but from within! 3. Contentment doth not appear only now and then, as some stars which are seen but seldom; it is a settled temper of the heart! it is not casual but constant.

Theologian Mark Allan Powell relates contentment to stewardship.

When we are faithful stewards, trusting in God to provide us with what we need, we will have better and more satisfying lives. We can go deeper and recognize that trust implies not only absence of something negative (anxiety) but also the cultivation of something positive! We not only trust God that we will have enough to get by; we trust God that we do have enough, already, right now. We have enough to be the people God wants us to be and to have the lives God wants us to have.

Devotional writer Donna Huisjen recounts the following story that drives home the concept of contentment in our modern world:

Last fall an advertisement appeared on a double billboard close to my home. One side pictured a young girl wrinkling her nose in protest against the cottage cheese and Jell-O 'pink stuff' on her family's overly abundant Thanksgiving table. The adjoining billboard featured a little girl walking along a windswept sidewalk, hand clasped in that of an adult. I remember precisely what was being endorsed: a local homeless shelter. The faces on both sides of the billboard were unhappy, but one was dirty and pinched rather than peeved. The girl at the Thanksgiving table suddenly came to symbolize for me the 'enemy' that is too often us. She became the unwitting representative of all in our culture that is selfish, pampered, demanding and complacent. Satisfaction, the comparison reminded me, is truly relative.