My last blog post for 2017 is about a quality of life that we praise much but practice less; one we know is a key to the best possible life but that many of us reject most of the time. Here it is – “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” (1 Timothy 6:6, ASV) Do you understand what it means to be ‘content?’ More, bigger, and best is as American as apple pie, isn’t it? A person who can honestly say “I have enough. This job provides all that I need. I have no wants.” is a rare creature. Some might even think that he lacks ambition or vision.
Trained as consumers, we have appetites for more – some new experience, a new culinary delight, another car, a new suit, a novel spirituality. In all this seeking for ‘new’ we can, and many do, lose sight of what God is doing in us and through us today. I am not pointing an accusing finger at anyone. It is a constant temptation for me, too; discontent stealing the joy of the moment as I imagine what life might be ‘if only’ … Let’s go back to that line from Paul quoted a moment ago. “A devout life does bring wealth, but it’s the rich simplicity of being yourself before God.” (1 Timothy 6:6, The Message)
Contentment will not just find us. It is learned, a way of life we chose. “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:11-13, NIV)
That passage is so rich. Paul does not ask us to deny reality. He acknowledges that there are places of need in his life, that he has experienced hunger and hardship. But, instead of railing against those things as ‘disappointments,’ he sees them as invitations to experience the FULLNESS of Christ Jesus. And, so can we!
Basic to living a contented life is to understand our true PURPOSE. We can get so caught up in raising our children, doing our job, maintaining our stuff – that we forget our singular reason for existence is to glorify God in all that we are, all that we say, and all that we do. Even our “Christianity” can get turned inside out if we make it means to try to be more respected or better adjusted or happier. Christ Jesus did not invite us into a ‘self-help’ program. He welcomed us into the family of God – loving us where we are, as we are, with the promise that His love will heal us and allow a beauty to shine out of us that is unattainable in any other way.
He reminds us that the lie of materialism must be exposed. “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” (Luke 12:15, NIV) “No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus.” (Luke 16:13-14, NIV) Do you believe His words? Be honest with yourself.
There are choices to be made to find a contented life. “Trust in the Lord and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires.” (Psalm 37:3-4, NLT)
- Trust! Will you hold out your life, all of it, to Him and trust Him totally?
- Do good! Love, serve, give, forgive, encourage, refuse to ‘play games’ and to try to impress.
- Delight in the Lord! This week my grandson, age 3, is in my house this week. He laughs at the simplest things: when Grandpa talks like Donald Duck, when Mom promises a bubble bath, when we dance a silly little dance together in the kitchen. His delight is contagious and I find myself joyful.
Are you able to delight in God’s simple gifts; a sunrise, the love of a friend, the sense of peace that comes from sins forgiven?
Contentment! It is not a secret only for an elite group of people. It is not beyond you – be you rich or poor, healthy or sick, young or old. Consider the invitation and pray to begin to learn how to live in this beautiful life. “Then, turning to his disciples, Jesus said, “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food to eat or enough clothes to wear.” (Luke 12:22, NLT) “These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need.” (Luke 12:30-31, NLT)
Pray with me, as we close this thought today.
Abba, You are Enough;
enough for my life, enough for my past, enough for my future.
Reveal the lies of the Enemy, as old as Eden, that tries to have me
believe that a happier, fuller life can be found ‘if only.’
Open my eyes to Your Presence today.
Put a new song in my heart, one that comes from a child-like trust.
Jesus Christ, I thank you that You have given me a complete salvation,
That I am ‘at peace’ with my Father. Bring that reality into ever greater evidence.
Thank you for the trials, for the blessings, for the challenges and the answers.
May I learn to be content so that Your radiance can shine brightly through me.
In Jesus’ Holy Name. Amen