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Are You a Giver or a Taker?

By Dr. Don Dunlap
Pastoral Counselor
We should strive to have godly ambition and to accomplish our undertakings in an exemplary manner.

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Are you sometimes guilty of complaining to God about your lot in life? It is important to understand what godly contentment is and what it is not. Contentment does not mean that we idly sit back and do nothing. In the second of a three-part series on biblical contentment, Dr. Don Dunlap explains that Christians are to be diligent, cheerful and industrious in all their undertakings. He reminds us that the only path in life to true satisfaction lies in being a giver and not a taker.

It is important to establish what godly contentment is and what it is not. We find an excellent definition of contentment in Ephesians 3:19. It is a prayer that Christians will “know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, and be filled up to all the fullness of God.”

Being content is not the same as being apathetic.

Contentment does not mean that we idly sit back and do nothing. That amounts to apathy and it does not honor God. The Bible clearly commands Believers to be diligent, cheerful and industrious in all their undertakings. The writer of Ecclesiastes 9:10 instructs us,

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.

In Hebrews 13:5-6 Paul explains the source of godly contentment:

Let your character be free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,’ so that we confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What shall man do to me?’

A Christian should strive to maintain godly ambition and seek to accomplish all of his/her undertakings in an exemplary manner.

Some Christians make the serious mistake of thinking that contentment means they need not demonstrate any evidence of ambition in their lives. However, contentment is not the same as lack of ambition. Godly ambition is a desirable trait for Believers. It is a commitment to achieve excellence in every area of our lives in order to honor the Lord.


Christians with no ambition tend to be takers. They often selfishly believe that God owes them certain things—income, status, caring friends and family. They are generally unwilling to inconvenience themselves for the sake of others. They are frequently heard complaining about their lot in life, and they are convinced that the chance for true happiness has somehow eluded them.


We should regularly ask ourselves, “Am I a giver or a taker?”

The only path to true satisfaction in life is to be a giver. A contented person is “outwardly-focused,” ready to seize every opportunity to encourage others who are downhearted or in need. Christians should heed the words of Proverbs 12:14,

A man will be satisfied [contented] with good by the fruit of his words, and the deeds of a man’s hands will return to him.

God expects His children to be known to all men for their “love and good deeds.” A worthy goal for every Believer is to serve others with a sincere and fervent love.

God asks us in Isaiah 55:2,

Why do you spend your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me…and delight yourself in abundance.

The abundance that God offers us is the abundant life Jesus speaks of in John 10:10,

I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly.

Here Jesus is telling His listeners the parable of the Good Shepherd.


The “life” He refers to in this verse is the eternal life that God grants a sinner when He redeems him/her from his/her lost state. The “abundant life” that is mentioned here is the pasture that Jesus our Shepherd provides for us, His sheep, as He tenderly cares for us, lovingly disciplines us, faithfully indwells us with His Holy Spirit, and progressively conforms us to His image.


Most Christians would agree that it is emotionally draining to spend time with someone who is not content with his/her life. A discontented Christian cannot possibly live each day in a dissatisfied state, and at the same time, fulfill God’s command to “stimulate others to love and good deeds.”

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