Contentment – Transformation vs Gratification

Pumping through in the veins of our society is the ideology of consumerism which boldly claims our happiness in life will be settled and enhanced by the consumer transactions we make.  Contentment appears to be within our grasp. Or is it? We are led to believe that the more we “consume”, products, relationships, or services, the greater our chance at happiness and sense of contentment. We are promised gratification but fail to see how inequitable this approach to life is when we will inevitably emerge from the transient states of fulfilment.

Consumerism is a worldview that pulsates with an insatiable desire to feel fulfilled by consuming, be it a possession, experience or relationships. The illusion of gratification as a pathway to contentment leaves us as casualties of the consumerism belief system. The individual pursues the “feeding frenzy” and discovers all too quickly how the hunger and desire for more seems to continuously increase. In reality, it is discontentment that sits beneath consumerism as it lures in the unfulfilled soul and promises what it actually can’t deliver.

Hebrews 13:5 cautions us about consumerism and reminds us we need to be content with what we have and not to become prisoners of currency and consumerism. Most importantly, the focus is on God who will never leave us or forsake us, implying that a perceived joy of possessions will fade and will never ever give us the level of security or contentment we are wired for as humans made in God’s image. God is enough for us. Right there is the deal-breaker. God is the source of true contentment, not possessions or experiences.

Christian contentment is not a commodity we go and pick off the shelf. It’s not a product or a service that results from a monetary transaction. Contentment is a transformation of our inner person that leads to a deep sense of fulfilment rather than a momentary sense of gratification that comes from a desire for things or experiences, that keeps us coming up empty. Christian contentment is a posture of “being” that flows out of a dependency on the character of God as He transforms us and brings authentic fulfilment, rather than a procurement of something that will ultimately disintegrate in its capacity to leave us content.

Never has there been a more illusory ideology than consumerism. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a good shop and there is nothing wrong with buying things, however when we get entangled with the roots of consumerism and allow it to shape us and drive us to try and feel content, we are gratified and not transformed.

Christian contentment begins with God who sees our deep need for meaning, fulfilment and contentment. There is a once off transaction that takes place when God deposits the seeds of salvation into our hungry souls. This is a one-way transaction that costs us nothing and cost God everything. Once He secures us, contentment becomes a transformational process where the deeper layers of our souls are bathed in the balm of genuine love that births contentment rather than a short-term fix that results from gratification after we have engaged with a misleading system of belief.

Consumerism says, “it’s time for something new”. But the need for something new is not just an occasional desire. It is a hedonistic drive that constantly circles back to the same start point: discontentment. No amount of gratification will ever be enough because it draws meaning and fulfilment from a source that is ever shifting.

The life to faith calls us to “the new”, but it causes us to look outward, beyond ourselves and to our Creator. We depend on God and His capacity to transform us as we encounter His goodness, faithfulness, and love in all seasons of life. Colossians 3:9-10 reminds us that when we enter into a relationship with Jesus, we “put off” the old and “put on” the new. God begins to transform and renew us into the image of Jesus. This is the epicentre of contentment, transformation in Christ rather than self-gratification.

What is it we hunger for? If we hunger for anything less than Jesus, we will fall prey to a life of discontentment. As we pursue Jesus, He leads us into the gardens of His grace and goodness and there we find exactly what He promises: Christian contentment.

Friends, as you “put on” the new in Christ, may you know the deep wells of His love and devotion for you as His treasured possession. He will transform you and seal true contentment into your souls.