10 Key Bible Verses on Contentment

This article is part of the Key Bible Verses series.

Whatever My Lot

A believer’s contentment is not to be affected by circumstances, but firmly rooted in the good news of Christ and what he has accomplished for sinners. Be encouraged from God's word with these verses and commentary adapted from the ESV Study Bible.

1 Timothy 6:6–10

But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

An eternal perspective (1 Tim.6: 7) helps believers to avoid the allure of greed, with the result that they are content with what God has given them, even if it consists of only food and clothing.

What is condemned here is the desire to be rich, not material things per se when rightly used for the glory of God. The desire to be rich leads one to fall into temptation. This in turn results in the love of money, which Paul identifies as a root of all kinds of evils (1 Tim.6:10). The connection between false teaching and the desire to be rich has been a problem from the church’s very beginning. The warning is not simply that “love of money” is harmful but that this has led some to deny the faith, showing themselves to be unbelievers (1 Tim. 1:19).

Hebrews 13:5

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

The antidote to love of money is contentment, which comes from trusting in God’s promised provision (see Deut. 31:6, 8; also Josh. 1:5). The citation from Psalm 118:6 applies the idea of trusting in God for more than just financial needs (especially in light of persecution, Heb. 13:3).

2 Corinthians 12:9–10

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Paul says that God’s grace “is sufficient” (in the present tense), underscoring the ever-present availability and sufficiency of God’s grace, for Paul and for every believer, regardless of how critical one’s circumstances may be (cf. Rom. 8:31–39). Paul was not allowed to speak about his heavenly revelations (2 Cor. 12:4, 6) but he quotes Christ’s declaration (“My grace is sufficient”) to underscore that his earthly weaknesses (not his revelations) would be the platform for perfecting and demonstrating the Lord’s power. This is the main point of 2 Corinthians 12:1–13 and the foundation of Paul’s self-defense throughout 2 Corinthians.

Habakkuk 3:17–19

Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
GOD, the Lord, is my strength;
he makes my feet like the deer's;
he makes me tread on my high places.

Anticipating great destruction at the hands of the Babylonians, Habakkuk has radically changed—he began by informing God how to run his world, and ended by trusting that God knows best and will bring about justice. Verse 17 contains a frequently quoted list of material disasters in which all crops and livestock are lost, and as a result it is unclear how there will be food to eat. Yet even amid suffering and loss, Habakkuk has learned that he can trust God, and with that trust comes great joy, not in circumstances but in God himself: yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. Yahweh has become Habakkuk’s strength (see Ps. 18:32, 39).

Habakkuk can have sure-footed confidence in God and can live on the heights even amid extreme circumstances (see Mal. 4:2). Probably the director of the temple musicians (see Psalms 4; 5; 6; 8; 9; 11; etc.). Stringed instruments are harps, lyres, etc. (see Ps. 33:2; 92:3; 144:9). This kind of liturgical notation suggests that Habakkuk meant this to be a “prayer” (Hab. 3:1) that the faithful would sing together.

Philippians 4:11–12

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Paul is grateful for the Philippians’ support, but he wants them to know that even in difficult circumstances he has learned . . . to be content. The secret of living amid life’s difficulties is simple: trusting God in such a way that one can say, I can do all things through him who strengthens me. This does not mean God will bless whatever a person does; it must be read within the context of the letter, with its emphasis on obedience to God and service to God and others.

Psalm 37:3–4

Trust in the LORD, and do good;
dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the LORD,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Some take “the desires” as referring to the feeling of desire, i.e., “God will shape your heart so that it desires the right things”; but the sense is rather, “he will give you what your heart desires.” It is safe to say this to those who embrace the advice of this psalm, because as they delight themselves in the LORD, their hearts will desire the right things (Psalm 37:16, 31).

Nehemiah 8:10

Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”

As the people rejoiced in God and delighted in his presence, he would show himself strong to help them and defend them. “Joy” was a keynote because God had saved Israel, in both the remote and the recent past, and this story of salvation would have been told again in the reading of the Book of the Law.

Colossians 1:24

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church.

I am filling up (Gk. antanaplēroō) what is lacking (Gk. hysterēma) in Christ’s afflictions does not imply that there is a deficiency in Christ’s atoning death and suffering on the cross, which would contradict the central message of this letter and all the rest of Scripture as well (cf. Heb. 9:12, 24–26; 10:14). Christ’s sufferings are in fact sufficient, and nothing of one’s own can be added to secure salvation. What was “lacking” in Christ’s afflictions was the future suffering of all who (like Paul) will experience great affliction for the sake of the gospel, as Paul described, e.g., in 2 Cor. 1:8–10. (Cf. Phil. 2:30, where Paul tells the Philippians that Epaphroditus risked his life “to complete [Gk. anaplēroō] what was lacking [Gk. hysterēma] in your service to me”.)

Matthew 5:6

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness recognize that God is the ultimate source of real righteousness, so they long for his righteous character to be evident in people’s lives on earth. They shall be satisfied by responding to his invitation to be in relationship with him.

John 4:13–15

Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”

The water that I will give him is the “living water” of John 3:10, identified in John 7:37–39 as the Holy Spirit dwelling within believers. never be thirsty again. A person’s deepest spiritual longing to know God personally will, amazingly, be satisfied forever. The phrase will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life is reminiscent of Isaiah 12:3 (see also Isa. 44:3; 55:1–3).

The woman takes Jesus literally and misunderstands him, just as Nicodemus did (see John 3:4). In John’s Gospel, Jesus frequently speaks in terms of the visible, physical world (birth, water, bread, his body, light) to teach about the unseen spiritual world.

All commentary sections adapted from the ESV Study Bible.


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