Content vs. Complacent

I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content” ~ Phil 4:11

What is the difference between contentment and complacency? One word carries positive connotations while the other is looked down upon. We are taught to be content, but not complacent. What then, is the difference?

Outwardly, both contentment and complacency look very similar. A person who is either content or complacent can appear to be acting the same. On the surface contentment and complacency can look identical. The definition of both seems to suggest being satisfied with where you are or what you have.

Therefore the difference between contentment and complacency is not in what it appears to be on the outside, but rather what it actually is on the inside. When the Apostle Paul said that in whatever state he was in, he’d learned to be content, he was saying this from a grateful heart for what he had been given. With humility and thankfulness, Paul was at peace with who and what he was. He was content in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The difference between contentment and complacency then is one of the heart. Being content implies being satisfied with where you are, but with a willingness to move forward. While complacency implies a lack of desire to grow, improve or better one’s self.

Christians should learn to be content; thankful for what God has done for them and to avoid complacency. We should always be willing to grow and be used of the Lord in different ways while already thankful for who we are in Him. This is the key to true contentment.