Being content in this materialistic, got-to-have-it-now world is easier said than done, right?
I used to think about contentment in terms of “giving thing up.” But God has shown me that contentment is much more than giving up the drive for material and financial success.
Contentment is really a character issue.
God asks us if we can resist the temptation for things we “just have to have,” in order to put him first to direct our life in every respect. That’s contentment.
“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.” 1 Timothy 6:6-7
My focus on materialism as a young CEO chasing success was driven by an overriding desire for acquiring the “things in life.” The problem with that? There is never enough pay-off when we play the contentment game in that way. Our cravings are never satisfied, and there is always something bigger and better to acquire. Coveting “things” messes up our need to be content. It doesn’t have to be the “big stuff” like houses, cars, and boats. It could be the acquisition of the Ph.D. degree you’ve been eyeing, that invitation to join the exclusive country club down the street, or anything tangible or intangible becoming an obsession diminishing the joy in life and living out our purpose in Christ.
I GOTTA HAVE THAT MANSION!
Seeking to be content in God’s eyes is a deliberate move to rearrange our priorities and change our source of security from what we have to what God promises. For me, I had a burning goal to build a towering mansion and worked furiously to get it at the expense of everything else. In that mode, how in the world could I be content with less at that point. The mansion was not evil in itself. The equation’s evil part came from my focus on that goal to the exclusion of all else. How in the world could I live a balanced and Christ-like life under those circumstances? It was impossible.
If our security is in our possessions, our talents, our looks, our friends, our retirement, our spouse, our hobby, our car, or anything else, what happens when they disappear or lose their shine? If we depend on something we can lose for our security, we will never be at peace. God wants us to focus on what we have, not on what we want.
Being content and living a life of joy are joined at the hip. Separating contentment and joy leads us down the road of using things to offset the pain and stress on the try-hard track. The joy does not come downstream like that. The joy comes upstream when we put these two issues together and realize that being content with what we have is what leads to joy.
“I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 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. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:10-13