"Contend" Or "Contented"


A very interesting thing occurs in Vine’s Dictionary of the New Testament Words and Webster’s Dictionary. The word “contend” is immediately followed by the words “content” or  “contentment.” Obviously, these words have different meanings. “Contend” means “to strive, to contend as in 2 Timothy 2:5; to do so earnestly as in Jude 3, as a combatant.” “Content” means “to be sufficient...satisfaction with what one has.” Webster says, “not desiring something more or different.” There is no possible way to confuse the usage nor the meanings of these two words.

When it comes to material things, the word “contend” seems to be the word of the day rather than “content.” Men and women are striving for the world’s luxury, pleasure, honor, and glory by covetousness, idolatry, and lust. “Contending” for the things of the world has alienated marriages and families from any emotional or physical contact. It has created frustration, divorce, and selfishness. Jesus commanded us not to let “things” dominate our lives (Matthew 6:25-33). Some need to learn the difference in “contend” and “content” in physical matters, and remember that “godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6).

Believe it or not, godliness is an area where “contend” and “content” are confused. Jude 3 writes of “common salvation.” “Exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” Friend, Jude said “contend” for the faith, not be “content” with your faith. We are never admonished to be “content” with the faith we had at baptism (Hebrews 6:1-3). We are exhorted to “grow” (Ephesians 3:13-16; 2 Peter 3:18), not remain the same. Philippians 2:12 encouraged all to “work out their own salvation with fear and trembling.” That is a steady, on-going project. There is no point at which you stop learning from God and depend on ten years of faith to get you through the next twenty-five years.

“Contending” in faith, not “content” in faith is where we need work. Those who “contend” for the faith will make efforts not only to learn themselves, but to teach others what they have learned from God. Those who “contend” will have their hearts focused in truth and will not bend to the subtle nature of error. A “contented” church never “contends.” It easily sways back and forth (Ephesians 4:14). A church, “filled with Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18), will set its sights on using what God has revealed, not only as a means of opposing error, but as a support to keep the church the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Timothy 3:15).

There is one thing the church should be “content” to do, and that is to be “content” in “contending” for THE faith as the sole means of conversion and edification of the church. The gospel will always be the power to save and to keep the saved, saved. Too many religious people are “content” with using other means besides the truth. They “contend” for the use of so many things scripture does not authorize, and what they reap is a “contented” membership. It is easy to see why this happens. When Christians “contend” in life for material things rather than “contend” for righteousness, the church will do the same.