On Contentment

by Derek Brown

The contrast between the wicked and righteous in Proverbs is stark. To be righteous is to trust in and fear the Lord, and this right standing with God produces a life of integrity, purity, wisdom, and success in one’s earthly dealings. The wicked reject the fear of the Lord and thus become entangled in a myriad of problems and self-induced troubles. 

When it comes to how one enjoys the pleasures of this life, the difference between the wicked and the righteous is just as sharp. Solomon puts it like this: 

The righteous has enough to satisfy his appetite,
but the belly of the wicked suffers want.

Proverbs 13:25

Does Solomon mean that only the righteous enjoy wealth and prosperity while the wicked suffer under the scourge of persistent poverty? While godly wisdom often leads one to manage their money well and even increase their wealth (Prov 13:11), Solomon is also clear that a small meager material goods accompanied by holiness is far better than serious riches alongside a sinful lifestyle (Prov 15:16). It is also the case that those who presently reject their Creator may, despite their defiance, actually enjoy many earthly blessings in this life (Psalm 73:4-5). Solomon’s point is Proverbs 13:25 is actually far more profound than what a mere comparison two individual’s wealth may tell us.  

When Solomon says that the righteous has enough to satisfy his appetite, he is talking about contentment. That is, because the righteous person’s spiritual palate is satisfied in God, the earthly blessings he enjoys consistently satisfy his physical palate. A godly person who feeds on Christ may have little in terms of earthly goods, but what they do have tastes sweet to them and they enjoy these simple pleasures as gifts of God’s goodness. 

The wicked, however, are never satisfied. They might have the resources with which to acquire every pleasure this life has to offer, but because they have rejected the fount of these blessings (James 1:17), they will never be satisfied by the blessings themselves. They suffer want, not in terms of their physical possessions, but in terms of their spiritual satisfaction. 

Because we have Christ now and for eternity, we are able to walk through our days and lay our heads on our pillows at night with the peace of contentment. And that is exactly what our Savior intends for us (Matt 6:25-34). Through faith in Jesus and his promises, we can be content with the status of our wealth, the variety of our spiritual gifts, our present place of work, and so on.

Contentment in Christ doesn’t mean that we are forbidden from seeking to improve our present circumstances (e.g., through earning more money, finding another job, pursuing a spouse, etc.), or that we will never encounter financial difficulties, material loss, or physical hunger. But it does mean that in every pursuit and stage of life, we will always have enough to satisfy our appetite.