One issue often overlooked today when character is discussed is contentment. The omission is major. There is perhaps no greater need in the North American church today than to hear contentment preached and see it modelled by its pastors. Much sin and suffering among God’s people (including pastors) sprout from the root of discontent. Foolish financial decisions and enslaving debt are often the fruit of refusing to be content with God’s provision. That divorce in our church which catches us by surprise is frequently only the end of a long, family-destroying process birthed by discontent in the heart of a husband or a wife.
Contentment, or lack of it, provides an important window into the state of a preacher’s spiritual life. The presence of contentment expresses heart obedience to the tenth commandment, ‘You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife. You shall not set your desire on your neighbour’s house or land, his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour.’ In other words, ‘You shall be content with what the Lord your God has provided you!’
Failure to be content in the place God puts you or with the material provision he provides is sin. But more, it is a sin that, if not quickly dealt with, will metastasise and become terminal to spiritual life. According to Romans 1:21, it is the refusal to give thanks (a mark of discontent) that leads to outright rebellion against God. Speaking of wicked men and women who suppress the truth about their Creator, Paul writes, ‘For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their foolish hearts were darkened.’ In light of this truth, it is no surprise that the first step towards the fall was the sowing of discontent in Eve’s heart. In Genesis 2, God graciously gave the man and the woman the fruit of every tree but one in Eden’s garden. Adam and eve moved well down the road of rebellion the moment they permitted Satan to distract them from all God had given and caused them instead ot fixate on the one thing he had not. It is the same for us.
From chapter 6 of Nobody’s Perfect but you have to be – the power of personal integrity in effective preaching, published by Baker Books 2005