We all are living in a world where the word “contentment” sounds strange. Human beings generally speaking are never satisfied with material things, pursuits, endeavours, projects, connections, positions etc. It seems everyone has been infected with Oliver Twist’s popular quote in Charles Dickens’ fictional novel “Please sir, I want more”. We just want more, it does not matter how we get it, how many lies are told, the number of shady deals that are done. The question is “When will enough be enough?” After getting everything you want to get, will you still want what you get?
You know, Jesus said “A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of things he possesses” ( Lk. 12:15). The Message translation of this verse says “Take care! Protect yourself against the least bit of greed. Life is not defined by what you have, even when you have a lot” Whenever you make material things your pursuit, you can never have enough of them. Greed is what fuels lack of contentment. Greed is an overwhelming desire to have more of something such as money than is actually needed.
We all must learn to slam a brake on our appetite for things. Don’t allow motivational speakers deceive you by statements like “If you don’t perspire to acquire, you will expire” Beautiful nonsense! At the root of every lack of contentment, you will find greed and covetousness. Greed is what fuels craze for material things! “From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts” (Jam 4:1-3)
Contentment means “I’m satisfied with what I have and I’m grateful for them” “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content” (1 Tim. 6:6-8). We should be satisfied and grateful for the basic necessities of life, i.e. food and clothing. Jesus emphasised same in Matt. 6. It doesn’t mean you are laid back or lazy, it simply means you are okay and then it is impossible to have everything. If there are things you don’t have now, you must be assured that you will have them later. And if you don’t ever have them, you are fine still. We all must have a limit to the things we want to own. The fact that you can afford something does not mean you should buy them. Our needs are what He said He supplies not our greed (Phil 4:19). Sometimes, extra or additional things will come as gifts from friends and loved ones, we ought to realize they are not meant for us. We become channels through which God blesses others with the extras. How many clothes can you wear at a time? How many houses can you live in at a go? Can you drive two cars at once?
Material things should never be our status boosters . They are meant to be used and discarded. Do not attach your self worth to things. It is even wrong to boast about material things as believers in Christ. It should never come across in your conversation with others that you take pleasure in material possessions. Paul the Apostle quoted Jeremiah the prophet “Let him that boast, boast in the fact that He knows me”( 1 Cor. 1:31; Jer 9:24) Our boast is in intangible things, things money cannot buy. Spiritual things must define us not material things. Our citizenship is not of this earth (Phil 3:20) . There is absolutely nothing we have that can be compared to who we are and where we are. We are of God and we are citizens of Heaven. Jesus said “My kingdom is not of this world…”(Jh. 18:36). We ought to live as pilgrims on the earth (1 Pet. 2:11).We were admonished by Apostle Paul to “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Col.3:2).
Here is another instruction:
“But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none; And they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; And they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away.” ( 1Cor. 7:29-31).
We must learn to hold the things of this world loosely. Endeavour not to hold tightly to anything. Nothing that you own should own you neither should you have something that you cannot do without or give away. Anytime you discover there is something or someone that takes all your attention, emotions and obsession, you must detach yourself as quickly as possible. In the above quoted verses of the scriptures, Paul tells husbands that they should live as though they are not married. He didn’t say they should divorce or separate from their wives or shy away from their responsibilities, but they should not spend all their time thinking about them. We don’t live for people, we live for God. We are told not to abuse the things of the world because the fashion of this world is gradually fading away.
We can only detach ourselves from material things when we attach ourselves to eternal things.
“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me”( Heb. 13:5-6).
His presence in us is eternal! His righteousness, peace and joy in us are everlasting. If I want to live a life of contentment, I must stay focused on the spiritual realities in me which are eternal. There is no one who is spiritually minded that is not physically contented.
Say these words out loud:
My lifestyle is without covetousness
I’m contented with what I have
My joy is not tied to material things
I rejoice only in eternal realities and not temporary things of this life.
No pressure, anxiety or stress in my life
I take one day at a time knowing full well that My Father cares for me.